For those of you who have not yet become jaded by New Year's resolutions, just give it some time. The excitement of the calendar rolling over to January will one day become a knowing sigh that sounds something like, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." Twice? Ha!!! I can't count how many times I "vowed" to make the new year one that would lead people to write about how great of a person I was.
Oh, I was something special for a few days or even weeks. But once it no longer felt like a new year, the old Jeff started creeping back. Perhaps some of my resolutions stuck, but not necessarily because I kept thinking of them as resolutions. They simply became a part of me. Within a few weeks of New Year's Day, I probably couldn't remember what resolutions I made (maybe I need to resolve to be better organized so I can find my resolutions, eh?).
So why do resolutions so often go by the wayside, and how can we do better at making them stick? Here are some of my thoughts; please feel free to add yours:
First, I think we need to do away with the idea that somehow New Year's Day is the best day to resolve to do anything. If we see something about ourselves that needs changing, do something about it now
. If I've waited until the new year, how resolved could I possibly be about addressing that issue in the first place?
We also need to always keep in mind M. Scott Peck's obvious but often forgotten truth: "Life is difficult." I don't know about you, but I tend to make resolutions when I feel excited about doing new things, but once the euphoria wears off and the challenges come, I'm ready to say "later." More often than not I will probably not feel like doing many of the things that have the potential to turn my life around, but I'll usually feel better afterward for having done them. In fact, even getting started makes me feel more motivated to do that thing than sitting there waiting for the motivation to hit me.
And perhaps we resolve to change too much too soon. I tend to create large lists of things I want to change about myself, and then I look at it and think, "It's too much." So I do nothing. Or I make half-hearted stabs. I think in the future I'll look at a handful of things that matter most in my life, and address them. At least I'll be a little better than I was by year's end. Hey, it beats setting lofty goals that I come nowhere near meeting.
Finally (at least for now), it might help me to visualize the potential outcomes based on doing/not doing what I resolve. What will I look and feel like in 20 years if I don't eat better and exercise more? How much joy will my wife experience if I write her more notes and cards?
I'll have to think through a handful of things I want to accomplish during 2006, and then pray for wisdom, courage, and strength to carry them out. May each of us be a little bit better come January 1, 2007. God bless you all.New Year