It is the time of year that people make their resolutions. They are made with a good heart and a desire to change, which I champion. Two out of the top three resolutions are about health and fitness. People are well aware, especially after the usual overindulgence of the holidays, that their health matters. We innately understand that being healthy is essential. We all want to feel good, be good, and look good if we are honest. So we make resolutions with no resoluteness. I am going to lose 20 pounds this year. I am going to go on a diet. I am going to join a gym. I am going to work out four days a week. I am going to quit smoking, drinking, eating ________ (fill in the blank). On average, we last days to a couple of weeks before we continue to live the same way that got us in the place of discontent that we reside. Then we feel like a failure and not powerful enough to be what we aspire to be. There is a better way.
First, we must use one of the most powerful tools we have, choice. New Year’s resolutions have become a wish, a fancy, a wild statement like wanting to win the lottery. Choice is what you do when you marry someone. Choice is buying a house, car, or even groceries. Choice pulls the trigger and propels your decision into your future like a bullet from a gun. You have that kind of power within you! You are more powerful than you think. Look at all the choices you have made that have taken strength, effort, and endurance. Looking at your failures can be demotivating for most. Look at your successes. You have made decisions about schools, houses, spouses, jobs, and dozens of other things that were hard at times. You have the ability to carry through your choices. I propose that you make firm choices rather than wishes for the new year.
We can get caught up in the transtheoretical model (method) of change (Pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, maintenance). We can also talk about SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) or a dozen other ways to help you achieve goals that you must change. All of these things are good; I use them to access and help people accomplish things. This year I encourage you to join me in creating some declarations about your future and plan them into your life and schedule. We must harness the power of our good desires like being healthy and fit, saving more money, or enriching our marriage. Psychologists tell us that we will get a dopamine release that will propel us four days after we make a decision. I am not saying we should do everything for the dopamine, but why not harness this reaction and the internal benefits of making positive changes in your life? Every 3-4 days, make a decision again. To be sure, the dopamine release will be less and less as you go on, but hopefully, other benefits will kick in and serve to propel you forward. Most things won’t “show up” for a month or more, so we have to plan for January and February to be hyper-focused on our goals for change.
There are a few tools to utilize that will help. First, write it down and say it out loud. Declarations of a decision need to have some teeth. Set them before you. This is not a reminder of something to do. This is an agreement with a decision that you have made. Count the cost often. If you are going to “be more fit” (which isn’t very concrete), you have to count the cost associated with that change. You have to picture what that means and determine how to get there. You have to purchase, enjoin others, learn how, and schedule the time to do it. Write that down too! Think it through. Like a gymnast that goes through the routine in their head before performing it, you have to see what you are doing before you do it. This is not some weird anti-God meditation. This is what creators do. They envision what it will look like before they draw up the schematic or plan. See yourself getting up 15 minutes earlier, moving money from checking to savings, or holding hands with your spouse while on a walk.
There are many motivation techniques that I could talk about with you, but in the end, your choice will propel you to where you want to go. It already has. You may find yourself at a train station where you do not want to live. You have the power to find the right train, get on it, and get to the station where you want to live. It will cost you the train ticket price, but you will get to where you want to go.
Friends, engage your whole being instead of making a quick resolution. Find your heart’s desire that is good and godly. Use your remarkable mind and brain to think about it and plan it out. Engage your incredibly powerful soul to choose to do it. Then use your body to right it down and speak it out. Finally, engage God in this whole process. He cares more than you think about the nuances of your life that may be temporary compared to eternity. He understands and cares deeply for you. He is for you. Me too!