Change is a necessary part of life. Often it is painful. More frequently, it is uncomfortable. No wonder we tend to not like it.
Each new year, we tend to get retrospective. We look over the past year and glimpse at our successes and stare at our failures. Because of this lopsided view of reality, we start making plans for changes. We might call them resolutions. We like that word because it implies both our attitude and the goal. We might say to ourselves, “We resolve to resolutely stick to this resolution until we resolve our issue.” A bit much? Probably. But it how we optimistically (and naively) think.
Statistically, only 8% of people stick to their New Year’s resolutions. This means 92% of the rest of us give up before we turn the page of our calendar. The reason for this is mentioned in the first paragraph above. We are focused on our failures from the past instead of our goals in the future.
People determine to lose weight because they don’t like the number on their bathroom scale or the image starting at their belly in the mirror. Instead of focusing on what they want to achieve, they focus on what they want to lose. But it’s hard to be motivated by losing something, because losing that weight also means losing the pies, cakes, snacks, and most importantly, the relaxing evenings where we sit and do nothing. There has to be a powerful motivator to get us to change our habits and behaviors. Instead of focusing on the negative in the past, we must train ourselves to look at something positive in the future. It could be running a St. Jude marathon and helping those wonderful children and the hospital that serves them. It could be fitting into the clothes that hang in the closet gathering dust and taking up space. It could be feeling better, having more energy, and accomplishing more. The positives, when properly seated at the front of our minds, can motivate longer and stronger towards change.
Another resolution people make is to “enjoy life to the fullest.” This is hard to achieve because it is so vague. How does one know whether they accomplished this or not? What if someone enjoys life but not absolutely to the fullest? Instead of a general statement that sounds good, make a hard and fast, achievable, and measurable goal. Have some moment, some accomplishment, or some event set in the future to which you can look forward.
We as Christians should be changing people. We should resolve to meet our goals. And both of these illustrations of common resolutions can teach us how to do this well. Paul tells us to “forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3.13b-14). Our goal is our prize. This requires righteous living. This requires sacrificing self for God’s purposes. This requires devotion and diligence. This requires moving forward, changing constantly, and driving ourselves towards God’s holy standard. This requires setting specific goals for ourselves that will help us progress in our walk with God. This requires that we keep our eyes on Jesus (cf. Heb 12.1-2) and on heaven. Let’s resolve to resolutely achieve our resolutions together.