One month ago about 100 million of us made some form of formal New Year resolution. It’s time for a check-up.
How are we doing? Any healthier? Are finances in order? Learned anything new? Any improved relationships?
One month in to the year we should be seeing some movement. Of course, many – most – resolutions for change fail miserably. Why? Making real and lasting change – what the Bible calls “repentance” – isn’t mystery or magic. Here are a few simple keys:
Make intentions measurable and specific. If I need to lose weight, I can frame that objective as a concrete goal: “I will weigh 185 pounds on March 8, 2010 and stay there until December 31, 2010.”
Writing goals works wonders. Psychologists suggest this exercise frees the left brain from asking “what?” and releases the right brain to solve “how?” I’m putting goals into words here and now… You can do the same in the comments section below if you choose!
Tell someone. Asking for accountability from someone we trust brings extra leverage to our commitments.
Commit to a plan not just a goal. There might be several paths to reach your goal. Pick ONE and follow it!
Formalize no more than five personal goals at any one time. Five is the capacity of our focus. Trimming my “wishes” down to five priorities is difficult but necessary if I’m going to move beyond “hope” to “will.”
Pray. Yes, pray. I realize up front that I’m doomed to fail with all my plans to change myself. Yes, disillusion too is a necessary step, and with it a cry for help. Jesus once said, “Apart from me you can do nothing.” In other words, all my intentions and plans AND commitments and disciplines Will in the end fall short. I’m not strong enough or focused enough, even with all the right strategies. Yes, I can improve the odds of success, but I can never dodge Jesus’ tenet: “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” One great spiritual teacher put it this way: “I can’t, you can, please do, thank you!” That is the key to transformation… and resolution… I can’t. Jesus can, through me. I can ask for that change, and then thank him for that completed promise.
“God, I want to change. I need to change. You made me for more than I am. But the truth is, I need more than my own resolve. I need you. I can’t make the changes I must. Please work in me to lead me toward my destiny. Give me strength and determination and focus and the humility to ask you to work when and where I cannot. Thank you ahead of time for your strength to accomplish your purposes in me. In Jesus…”