New Beginnings: How are your New Year’s Resolutions Working for You?

New Year ResolutionsIn this 3 part series, I explore the question of change – can we change ourselves? What part does God play in the ways we want to improve ourselves?

Did you make any New Year’s Resolutions for 2015?  I didn’t make any for myself.  I am, quite frankly, annoyed by resolutions, though not by others making them.  They apparently work for some people (at least for a while).  For me, the very idea is burdensome.  Making a commitment I inherently do not want to keep, and lugging around the weight of imminent failure does not excite me.

Some of the most common resolutions include quitting smoking, losing weight, getting more fit, drinking less, getting out of debt, or finding a new job. The list goes on.  When I used to make resolutions, the one I made every year was to be at my goal weight by my birthday.  Never happened.  What resolutions made your list for 2015?  How are you doing with them now that we are a month or so into 2015?

Taking stock
New Years invites us all to reflect and take stock of who we are and where we are headed.   But what good are these reflections?  They pass by like that plate full of Brussels sprouts at the family dinner.  One might think “Healthy food looks so healthy.  It feels good to think about for a minute.  I even felt healthier in the minute that I thought about it.”

It is easy to avoid taking stock during the year.  Who has time for personal assessment? But come December and we hear Karen Carpenter crooning “Merry Christmas darling,” we suddenly realize we have roses to smell, people to love, and life is fleeting.  Some of the more meaningful resolutions arise out of these moments of welling up emotions. What is slipping through my fingers that I ought not allow?  I could do more, do better, be more, and be better.   Yet, why is it so hard to translate those palpable desires for “a new year and a new you” into reality?

Creeping complacency
Resolutions speak to the desire to overcome the common challenges we face. Part of us really does desire to overcome. However, when we stand up to the task we find ourselves wrestling with a surprisingly formidable foe.  How did that innocent night time bowl of ice cream turn me into a crack ho? (Is it ok for a Christian to say ho?)

Habits like these creep in over time, sneaking in as those small, almost unnoticeable choices we make on a daily basis.  Perhaps they seem harmless, or just expedient, but for some reason, they have staying power.  That wouldn’t be so bad – but the subtle negative impacts grow slowly, like the roots of a tree under the foundation of your house.

Then the day comes when the impact (i.e. weight gain, a DUI, out of control debt) of creeping complacency presents itself as if to say – it’s time to decide what you think about me. You decide it’s time to break up with your habit.  You then realize how difficult the ceasing of all those little daily decisions can be.  The standoff:  In one corner, the glaring result of your habit, and the enemy in the other corner.  The “enemy” is change – having to stop doing something you like and instead do something new and unpleasant.  Not just once, but every day until the obvious problem becomes less obvious or goes away completely.  Who can win that battle, and how?

How does one make meaningful change and make it stick?   Stay tuned for Part 2!