Welcome to that time of the year when all around you are making New Year’s resolutions, presumably designed to improve or fix the things that are wrong with themselves. Maybe you are doing the same. But, as you already know, change is difficult and most heartfelt resolutions have already broken down within 30 days of making the solemn vow and of the remaining 25% still holding fast to their promises, only 8% actually succeed. Pretty pitiful, wouldn’t you agree? How can you succeed with such poor odds? Are you really broken and in need of repair? Are the plans you’ve made really resolutions or are they just wishes; New Year’s wishes?
Most of us, because of the world we live in, are beseiged with thoughts concerning what is wrong with us. We’re consumed with images of tremendously fit, sexy human beings and the thousandfold ways they got there, all available to us for just $19.99. We are all abundantly clear regarding our excesses and observe with painful recognition things we need to better control. We watch reality shows of people who are very wealthy, working very little yet enjoying lavish vacations and spur of the moment trips across the globe. And all of these things, multiplied out indefinitely, serve to sort of beat us into submission concerning our own lives, leaving us frustrated and anxious to secure all of the things we lack, whether it be a flat belly and skinny jeans or disciplined control of ourselves and our decisions or untold financial resources promising us freedom from all that ails us. In short, somebody has gotten our number and discovered a method to keep us forever bound.
The first part of actually making a change is to determine your true starting point or maybe better, to be honest about the things you truly want in your life as opposed to the things you don’t want. Do you really want to look like that sultry, slim celebrity or do you just want to stop wearing jeans that cut off your circulation? Are you swearing off wine forever or do you just need to find a way to consume less than a bottle a night or three a night every Friday and Saturday? Do you truly need millions of dollars and yachts and cars and houses or do you just need enough to be able to say yes much more often than you say no? (I have often thought if most people had $50,000 in their checking account for discretionary purposes, they would actually feel rich). I digress… The most important benefit of being honest is to determine what is driving your decisions. What is it that you are really after? You think that millions of dollars will totally fix your life, but it wouldn’t. Instead it would fix the things that involve money, but do nothing for your poor health, your crappy relationships, your lack of purpose and fulfillment. Being super slim and fit would greatly help your health and longevity, but would not guarantee your happiness. Even controlling yourself, one of the greatest things you could learn to master, would not last long without a compelling “why…” Begin your plans with what is most important to you personally for all of your own reasons, not those forced upon you by the world!
In order to change something you have to do something. Quitting smoking is easy as long as it’s not today. Writing a book maybe exciting and rewarding, but you have to take the time to actually write it. Losing weight has tremendous benefits both in terms of your health and how you feel about yourself, but you have to be prepared to do the actual work for a considerable amount of time until you reach your goal. The reason most people’s New Year’s resolutions don’t work is because they are really wishes. Wishes, like daydreaming, are pleasant and make us feel good. They offer us a promise of a better tomorrow, but they are always tomorrow. They are thoughts without actions. They are plans without effort. They are guaranteed to result in failure because they are not accompanied by any work. Anything worth having has some element of work involved with it. However, we defeat ourselves by envisioning all of the work on the front end and get discouraged before we even begin. We want a quick fix; a winning lottery ticket, a medication that makes us control ourselves and our minds, a dieting technique that if followed guarantees our success with very little determination of our own. We just do not want to do the work! We fail to consider that the only time we must supply the necessary effort towards our goals is today! Gather and focus all of your energy upon today. There is sufficient time to do all that you “need” to do today.
One of the most common tripping points for human beings is to think anything can move without action. You pray and pray and pray for more money, but do nothing to find out how to get it, then get it. You wish and wish and wish to be slim and healthy, but cave-in every time someone brings in something that tastes good, promising to start again tomorrow. You hope and hope and hope for a better future; a better year, yet fail to do something about it today to change something that made this year suck! You see, your life is under your control, even amidst many twists and turns. You can get anywhere you want to get if you are willing to put forth some effort. Wishing for a better life; a better experience, while being unwilling to do anything or change anything is the definition of futility. Change is not found in grand life-changing experiences, new calendar years, in sudden stunning moments of clarity and inspiration. Change is not secured by sticking to your plans perfectly with tremendous, newfound energy and discipline. Change is at last discovered in daily faithfulness; by you sticking to whatever you have determined for yourself day in and day out. Sure you are going to eat a whole pizza, polish off an entire box of wine, go down the exact same stupid paths you swore you would never tread down again! Absolutely you are going to trip and stumble and sometimes fall. But, you get your ass back up and get back after your plan! Anything you do faithfully, though you screw it up a hundred times, is going to result in change for you. It has to because you have supplied the effort and continue to supply it.
I, like you, have some definite plans for this New Year, not so artfully disguised in some earlier paragraphs. But, this year, by God, I’m going to supply some effort and stop kidding myself with empty wishes. Whether I do it perfectly or not; whether I have some low energy days or not; whether I lose track for a few days or not; whether I completely fall off the wagon or not, I plan to get there and I plan to do it by being faithful. The beautiful in life, the accomplishment, the fulfillment comes not from having it all figured out, but by staying faithful to the One that does. Day by day, do what you need to do! Discover for yourself the joy that follows control; control of your own life and actions and results.
So, my dear friends, whether you be fluffy or thin, prosperous or struggling, bored or enthusiastic, make a plan you can take action on every day. If you blow it start again. If you did nothing yesterday, do something today. If the journey feels too long or impossible, move ahead knowing this, God will reward your efforts with results as you remain faithful to what you know is His best for your life! Where do you think those good ideas come from anyway? You got this!
Just some good thoughts for 2020…