Happy Almost-New Year!
Many people use the start of the New Year to make some significant changes. Whether its lose weight, quit smoking, read the Bible, or start exercising, they aim to live differently than they did the previous year (or years!).
But as you know, most New Year's resolutions seem to be broken by Valentine's Day. So how do you keep your resolutions? Here are two keys:
In his book, The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg starts with the story of Lisa Allen. Lisa was being interviewed by a group of neurologists, psychologists, and a bunch of other "-ologists." She had started smoking and drinking at age 16, struggled with obesity most of her life, had over $20,000 in debt during her 20s, and never held a job for over a year.
Yet the woman who was sitting in front of the panel of scientists was 34, debt-free, slender, a non-drinker, a homeowner, and had completed a marathon. How did she make such remarkable changes? As her story unfolds, you learn her husband left her for another woman. In her depression and desire to escape the pain, she booked a trip to Egypt because she had always wanted to see the pyramids (and one of her credit cards wasn't maxed out yet...).
Sitting in a taxi in Cairo staring out the window at the desert, Lisa felt like everything was crumbling. She felt out of control and was desperate just to control something. And so she decided to set a goal she could control. She decided she was going to return to Egypt one year later and walk across the desert.
To endure such a crazy feat, she knew she was going to have to quit smoking and get in shape. So that's what she did. Every day, she envisioned making the trip across the desert. That "vision" kept her from the cigarettes, from an extra helping of food, and from sitting on the couch in her sorrow.
(By the way, she did make the trek across the desert - in an air-conditioned bus with other tourists. She learned it wasn't safe to attempt to walk across!)
That one small change that Lisa made began a series of changes. She learned how to envision the end-goal daily, and so she began to apply it to other areas of life, and pretty soon dramatic changes happened.
I think the writer of Hebrews attests to this. In explaining why and how Jesus endured the horrific-ness of the cross, the author says that Jesus' mind-eye was on "the joy set before Him." Jesus saw the end-goal - you and I back in relationship with our God - and so he endured the shame and pain of crucifixion.
So Key #1 to keeping your resolutions is to envision the end-goal daily.
The second key is to include others in on your resolution. Get some accountability. Recruit some trusted friends to ask you how its going and to encourage you to keep at it.
Even better, find a friend who will share the goal with you! Go exercise together. Talk daily about what you read in the Bible that morning. Share recipes that will help each other reach your weight goals.
I think this is why Jesus sent the disciples out in pairs. No one went alone. By going together, they could better endure any mocking they might receive for their message, they'd have extra strength to keep going, and they could keep each other's spirits up.
So recruit someone who will encourage you in your resolution, or some one who might even do your resolution with you.
And if you do one or both of these things, the chances of you keeping your resolution increase dramatically!
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