You wake up on New Year's Day and when your feet hit the floor, you muse: It is time for a change. However, the diet must wait until Monday morning, due to the football-watching party you have planned at your house, and all those Christmas goodies must not go to waste.
The planned exercise will come on Monday also, after all it is still the holidays. And on Jan. 2, the "after Christmas sales" are far too good to pass up, so you hit the stores for one last "plastic" splurge at the mall and indulge in a discounted giant cookie on the way out the door.
New Year's resolutions ... we all make them, but only a few - and I'm talking very few - actually follow through with them. Our hearts and heads are in the right place, but our human frailty succumbs to real life and our resolutions are usually dead by mid month, if not before. Below are the top U.S. resolutions made in the United States every year:
1. Lose weight
2. Manage debt and save money
3. Get fit
4. Drink less
5. Quit smoking
6. Reduce stress overall
7. Reduce stress at work
8. Volunteer to help others
Now, these may not be your resolutions, but they are on the top of many lists in the U.S. Now, I'm thinking, whatever your resolution could be, if we called it a "decision" instead of resolution, maybe, just maybe, it might last longer in our quest for real and lasting change in our lives. Here are a few tips to aid us in our quest for change:
n Step 1
Be realistic by setting achievable goals. Losing 100 pounds this year is a daunting goal. However, if you broke down your goal to "eating healthy and losing 1 to 2 pounds every week," it becomes a more attainable one.
n Step 2
Describe your resolutions in specific terms. Instead of "I don't want to be lazy," opt for "I want to exercise regularly" or "I will cut down on my television watching."
n Step 3
Break down every large goal into smaller ones. Make a list of short-term and long-term goals.
Find alternatives to a behavior that you want to change and make this part of your resolution plan. So you want to quit smoking but you smoke to relax yourself? What other forms of relaxation are available to you? There is a biblical principle that applies here. It states we need to "put off" the bad and "put on" the good. If you want to put off a bad habit, you need to replace it with a good one. For instance, if you want to stop lying, you need to speak the truth. If you want to stop stealing, you need to start giving.
n Step 5
Above all, aim for things that are truly important to you, not what you think you ought to do or what others expect of you. Being a proverbial people pleaser, I know how hard this is. However, we simply cannot please everyone and must resist the temptation to continually try. That doesn't mean you are not kind, compassionate and considerate, but it does mean there are some people whom you can never please, and the continual trying is draining you dry. Do your best, and leave the rest in God's Hands.
n Step 6
If you need wisdom concerning your decision to change/resolution, you simply need to ask. James 1:5 states, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." Sometimes, we do not even know what or how to change, but we know we need change. God promises if we ask him for wisdom in each and every area of our lives, he will give it. He will not "upbraid" or scold us for asking, either. He delights to give direction and with that direction the strength and courage to change what needs to be changed.
Jeremiah 29:11 reads, "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to you a hope and a future."
New Year's Day is here again.
A time to change and time to win.
Old things are gone and the new begun,
And it's all possible because of The Son.
So, when you step into the year,
do not fret and do not fear.
God is there as He was here,
Just in time for a brand new year: 2010!
(Kimberly Short-Wolfe, MA, is a homeschool mom and grief counselor/chaplain for Mountain Hospice. To contact her e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or call 304-823-3922, ext. 136.)