Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Making and Keeping Resolutions

I hope your eyes don't glaze over... haha!

I would be willing to bet that for every 10 people, there are 5 who give up on their resolutions by March, 4 who don't make any because they know they'll give up, and 1 lonely person who sticks with them.  That's probably a fair statement, don't ya think?  I can understand the second group - the ones who don't make resolutions because they won't keep them.  If you know your heart isn't in it, then why do it?

Personally, I think resolutions are great.  They are a way to own up to our failures, do something about our weaknesses, and reflect on the things we do during our earthly life.  The thing about resolutions is that they should be a set of objectives that help us carry out broader, grander goals in life - things like being a good steward of His money, being a Titus 2 woman (or man), and being a disciple of Jesus.  Yearly resolutions are just a focused and more specific way to carry out our broader goals and philosophies of living.

That being said, in my opinion, we should not make "resolutions" to do things like being a good steward of His money, being a Titus 2 woman, being a disciple of Jesus, etc. - those goals should be something we do every year, all our life.  When making resolutions, look at your broad goals, and think of ways you could improve in each category - i.e. if you want to be a good steward of His money, think about paying down debt, giving to others, etc.  Those kind of things make good resolutions - they can be accomplished in a year, or at least you can establish a habit within a year.  We can always be a better steward of his money, a better wife, a better mother, a better disciple, etc - but how we become better should be our focus for a year.  Do you get what I'm saying?  (Or as Parker says, are you picking up what I'm putting down?)    :)

In my experience, there are 7 things that help us make and keep good resolutions.
1. Specific - Resolutions have to be specific - you shouldn't say "Be healthier."  Instead, narrow your focus - how are you going to be healthier?  Eat more fruit?  Drink less caffeine?  Take vitamins?

2. Attainable - Don't set yourself up for failure!  If you never work out and you say you're going to work out 5 days a week... it's not going to happen unless you are a super motivated person.  One of my resolutions is to cook more - right now I cook maybe once a week... so cooking "more" would be 2-3 times a week (or more).  But don't set yourself up for failure by saying "Cook 4 times a week" - if you just say "Cook more" that could mean you start off slow in January and end in December by cooking 4 times a week - it's about establishing a habit.  Remember you have all year - it doesn't have to be right off the bat in January.

3. Balanced - Make resolutions to continue doing things you've been working on (which should be easy!), as well as resolutions that are "stretches."  For example, one of my resolutions last year was to be a smarter spender.  I feel like I have accomplished this, but it's something I'd like to continue working on.  On the other hand, cooking more is a somewhat of a stretch - I've established a bad habit in the past, and now I have to break it by being intentional about making time to cook.  "Stretches" should still be attainable!

4. Sustainable - This goes back to #2.  Resolutions should be something you can do long term.  Start slow, work your way to December.  Also, think ahead.  Is there something coming up in June/July that will change the way you live (i.e. are you moving, getting married, having children?)  Make resolutions that apply to that half of the year as well.  For example, I know I'm not going to be able to pay down student loans until I get a job in the fall.  Think ahead!

5. Measurable - Your resolutions should be measurable, meaning at the end of the year, you should be able to ask yourself, "Did I _____ ?" and you should be able to say a firm yes or no.  This means, in December, I can ask myself "Did I read the Old Testament?" and the answer will be yes or no.  It's best if things are objective, but sometimes you'll have subjective answers, and that is okay.  For example, in June, I should be able to ask myself, "Did I stay stress free while wedding planning?" and I'm sure that I will have had stressful moments, but I should be able to tell if I made a conscious effort to stay stress free during potentially stressful moments.

6. Reflection - Make a point to reflect on how you're doing.  You can check yourself every month, every quarter, in June, etc.  Don't wait until December to revisit your resolutions, because you probably will have forgotten them.  When you check in with yourself, see which ones you are doing well on (& continue what you're doing) and which ones you need to work on.  This can help you renew your focus if needed.

7. Ok, this is the best piece of advice, so if you've stopped reading and you're eyes are glazed over... READ THIS ONE.  :)  Put your list in a prominent place.  Put it on your fridge, on your dash, on your mirror, on your desk, etc.  I use my list as a bookmark in my devotional/Bible reading.  I like putting it there because it's something I see every night and it reminds me to seek God's help and grace.

Okay - now go and make resolutions!  :) haha  In case you haven't already...
laura ann

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