The thing that cracks me up about the New Year is that we often make these goals that just lend themselves to scrutiny. Pretty lofty ones sometimes. And we mean it… mostly anyway. I mean, one goal of mine was to improve the timing of my blog posts, but here I am on January 3rd talking about resolutions… Often it’s like we expect to wake up completely new people — or more realistically wake up with an entirely different caliber of self control in the face of temptation, because New Year’s Day we will be total health freaks, but on the Eve of the big day, we’re pounding chocolate till midnight knowing we’re going to wake up with a sugar hangover as a reborn health nut. Suddenly chocolate will appear disgusting and we’re going to crave kale chips, right?! It cracks me up. New Year’s resolutions and the effort that goes into keeping them is the silver platter parallel for the concept of Do vs. Done Christianity. But I’m not actually going there today. Check out the Do vs. Done blog for a refresher if you want one.
Back to resolutions…
Resolutions provide us the opportunity to reflect on the gap between the person you are and the person you want to be, and make strategic efforts to close the space between. So naturally, gyms are overcrowded, cigarette sales plummet, college applications soar and organic food is suddenly waaaaay more popular. We are a self-improving, goal-making people. We like to get better, measurably better. Most people know the popular (and wise) efforts like getting accountable, and staying motivated, being realistic, and dreaming big. But there are a couple of things to keep in mind that could prove to be game changers. So this year, if you want to handle your resolutions like a boss… consider these two truths:
1. Success has more to do with our strategy than it does our desire. I’ve mentioned my retail days before; and the single most applicable best practice I came away with was utilizing SMART action plans (specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and time-bound). When you write your resolutions with this effort, it will take much more than a comfy pillow to keep you from the gym.
“Goals aren’t reached by people with the most desire. They are reached by the people who prioritize the actions it takes to make them happen.” — Dr. Henry Cloud
Every year Brandon and I come up with a word to define our vision for the year. It is meant to set an expectation and define our priorities amidst the ever changing demands of life’s seasons. After we define our vision, we make a game plan for how we’re going to achieve it. There are a LOT of ways we can improve this effort to focus our energies, but it helps to set expectations and stifle the disappointment that comes with unmet desires. And I love my husband because he’ll tell me the truth. Painfully so. Just the other night on our hot vision casting date, he asked me about what goals I had in mind for this year, and after a short ramble, he stopped me and said, “yeah, that’s way too general. You’re going to have to get more specific or you’re going to be super disappointed when you fail.” Thanks, babe… but he was right.
After getting specific, it’s wise to keep in mind the following:
2. Setbacks don’t define you; persevere to win the long-term transformation. My gorgeous Mom lost 25 pounds in 2014. And it wasn’t because she really really wanted to lose weight, so she tried really hard not to eat too much. She had an action plan, and she had weekly weigh ins. She made a calculated effort… but there were tough moments. She revealed she had a day, a meltdown day, where something around 10 miniature chocolate candies found there way out of their wrappers and into her mouth. It was discouraging, and could have stolen her hope, and driven her to quit. But the most impactful part of the weight watchers program to her was hearing the following words; “This is a long-term lifestyle change. If you screw up once, it doesn’t mean you failed.” Setbacks don’t define how you’re doing. To win, you have to maintain a long-term perspective. And she did. She overcame and achieved her goal.
I think the goals we make reveal what matters to us. If your goals don’t point to your life’s vision and purpose, either your goals need amending, or your vision does. And it is wise to remember that while some transformation is eternally impactful, some are not. Some newness of self is seen and some is unseen. There are changes that matter far more than steel abs, a promotion, or even organic food (gasp). The other side of eternity doesn’t really care about kale chips. Aside from the whole concept of the unseen and eternal (which obviously has my heart), I am an undying proponent of the beauty of being made new. So that’s where we’re going next. The most powerful change there is, eternal change; change that matters.