Today is January 7th, and we are already one full week into the new year! Have you made your New Year’s Resolutions yet? (Come on, I know you have.) As we say “good-bye” to 2019, we all have different resolutions we set for ourselves. Actually, as we said “good-bye” to 2018, we probably set the same resolutions. And the year before that, and the year before that, and so on and so on. But what if, this year, we did something different?
There are many different things that we resolve to do in the upcoming year, and if you ask around, we all probably share the same plans. Most of us resolve to do things like lose some weight, read our bibles every day, start adding to our savings accounts, etc. Unfortunately, most of us usually aren’t able to follow through with these plans- at least, not as much as we’d like. We start off pretty well; after all, it’s a new year and a clean slate, so we feel motivated and excited to accomplish the goals we have, so far, been unable to accomplish. But what if we look at our goals from a different perspective?
Too many times, we unwittingly set ourselves up for failure. We either set expectations that are too high, or we set too many goals that are unattainable. First of all, we have to set smaller goals. We can’t go into the new year telling ourselves we plan to lose fifty pounds by summer. That may work for a small percentage of us, but I’ll bet that more often than not, summer comes for those people and they are lucky if they were able to lose twenty. They end up feeling disappointed because they haven’t met their goal, and instead of celebrating the twenty pounds they lost, they see themselves as failures.
If this sounds like you, I have good news! You are NOT a failure! The truth is, you simply set a goal that was just out of your reach for one reason or another. Goals, like anything else, should be set in baby steps. But let’s go one step deeper, shall we? What if, instead of resolving to do something this year, we resolve, instead, to not do something?
Here’s what I mean: What if, instead of resolving to read our bibles every day, we revolve to not go to bed until we’ve read our bibles? When we wake up deciding that we have to make sure we read our bible at some point during our day, it leaves too many open windows for us to say, “I need to make sure I do that,” or, “I’ve got plenty of time yet.” But before we know it, the day has gotten away from us, and by the time we climb into bed, we are too tired to concentrate on what we would be reading anyway. Another day slips past, and we go to bed thinking, “I’ll start that tomorrow.” Then, unfortunately, the same pattern just repeats.
But what if we change our resolve? What if we resolve to not go to bed until we’ve read our Scriptures, and then we actually schedule it in our day? You all know what time you like to get into bed, and you know how much time it takes you to do that. So, if you shower in the evenings, shave, moisturize, or what have you, and you know it takes you one hour to do all of that, then start heading there at least half an hour earlier than you normally would. Just like you know you must make time to moisturize before hitting the hay, you also must read your bible or do your devotions before turning in for the night.
On the flip-side, if mornings are your thing, maybe set your alarm for an earlier time. This can be different for every individual. For some, half an hour may be all you need. For others who like to do a more in-depth study, maybe shoot for waking a full hour earlier. Either way, make sure you incorporate enough time for prayer, too!
I’m talking to myself, too, by the way! I’m not saying I have found the perfect answer, and I guarantee that each one of us probably does things differently, and that’s okay. Find a routine that works for you, but put the resolve behind your plan. Make the commitment.
Maybe you’ve resolved to lose some weight this year. (I’m sure most of us are included in this one!) What if, instead of resolving to lose a certain amount of weight by a certain deadline, we resolve to not eat after seven pm? Or we resolve to not drink so many sugary beverages or designer coffees and start drinking more water in their place? Do you see the pattern?
Have you resolved to start saving money this year? Instead of trying to put money into a savings account each week, reconcile it in your mind that you aren’t going to stop at the coffee shop every day on your way to work. If you tend to eat out on the weekends, resolve to skip the restaurant scene on the first and third weekends of every month. At the end of the month, when you add up how much you’ve saved by making those few simple changes, you can then deposit that amount. Making one large monthly deposit instead of four smaller, weekly deposits might help you put into perspective exactly how much extra you had been spending without even realizing it.
It’s easier to plan on not doing a few small things than it is to plan out this big achievement you hope to accomplish before the next year sneaks up on you again. The wording somehow makes all the difference and will be what eventually affects your overall outcome. Making easy, smaller changes is going to be the key to what makes this year different than all the others. Taking those “baby steps” is ultimately what is going to bring you the success you’re seeking. Are you trying to write a book? Resolve to not let your day come to an end unless you’ve written at least ten paragraphs.
In my own personal experience this year, I’ve resolved to not just go about everyday life always letting my husband be the first one to say, “I love you.” It had occurred to me out of the blue one day that, although Greg knows I love him by my words and actions, I was very rarely the one to say those three little words first. He tells me on a daily basis that he loves me, and of course I assure him that I love him, too! But it randomly occurred to me that he would truly love and appreciate it if I were the one to say it first once in a while!
Have you ever seen the movie Fireproof with Kirk Cameron? (If not, you definitely should!) To make a long story short, the protagonist’s daily acts of random kindness toward his wife ultimately made him fall in love with her again. He and his wife had grown apart and were on the verge of divorce. Had he set out to fall in love with her again, that would have been an unattainable goal. However, he vowed to do one nice thing for her each day for forty days, and in the end, his love for her was reborn through his smaller, everyday actions.
Well for me, it hasn’t been very long that I’ve been practicing this new behavior of saying ‘I love you’ first, but I can already see the changes it has brought about. My husband holds his head a little higher, smiles a little more, and has a spring in his step! His positive moods have indirectly affected me in a positive way, and now we are both going through our days almost giddy!
For all intents and purposes, I could have easily resolved to try to make my husband feel more special this year, and then racked my brain trying to figure out what to do differently to accomplish that goal. But by committing to not let Greg always be the first one to say, “I love you,” I’ve accomplished the goal in an easier way with much less pressure. Being the first one to say it is not only harmless, but it is enjoyable!
What are some other things you can resolve not to do this year? How about you don’t make a disgusted face when you see your reflection in the mirror? What if you stop saying things to yourself that you would never even dream of saying to anyone else? Think about what you could accomplish if you resolved to stop saying, “I can’t!”
What New Year’s Resolutions can you make that will positively affect your family? What would it look like if you were to stop screen-time by 7:30 pm and play a board game together before bed? What would conversations sound like if you stopped asking yes or no questions and started asking open-ended questions instead? Imagine what it would be like in your home if you put your foot down and said, “I resolve to NOT use my cell phone at family meal times anymore!” (GASP!)
There are so many different directions you can take this new way of thinking when it comes to making strides towards the things you hope to achieve. The most important thing I can tell you is to not get discouraged and give up too soon. If you slip-up or miss a day, don’t beat yourself up about it! Just start fresh the next day with a little more determination and a lot more grace.
Rachel Hollis, among others, is famous for her motivational podcasts, books, and other tools. If it would help you to keep better track of your progress, definitely invest in a goal-setting journal or planner. You will be able find the perfect fit for you by checking out thehollisco.com, passionplanner.com, or even Amazon.
If you don’t want to spend the extra money on anything fancy, just get a simple notebook from your local department store or grocery store, and make your own. Create check lists, a space for gratitude, and even draw several circles or check boxes to keep track of water intake, for example. Making your own goal-setting journal might be better for you anyway, because you can tailor it to your exact needs and desires.
Maybe you’re having trouble thinking of a New Year’s Resolution this year. If this is you, check out my Time Management post and/or click on the Freebies tab to print out the Victories Chart. Pick something off of that list to focus on implementing this year if it’s not something you’re already doing.
As I type this post, it is currently snowing where I live, and I am resolving to no longer be afraid of snowstorms! Although driving in the snow is one of the things I dislike the most about Winter, I am choosing to not be fearful of it. I have been driving for over twenty years, and I know I’ll be okay. Besides that, I am in the palm of God’s hand!
God will get me safely to my next destination just like He gets me through anything else. And you are in the palm of His hand, as well, which means He will get you through anything, too… even your New Year’s Resolutions!
If you’d like to share, I would love to hear some of your goals for 2020. What are some ways you can accomplish those goals by resolving to not do something? Comment below, and Happy New Year!