How to make resolutions more than ineffectual band-aids.
It’s time once again to ring in a new year. Which for many means making New Year’s resolutions. But based on both statistics and personal experience, I find that New Year’s Resolutions don’t work! So if you failed to keep last year’s resolutions, take heart. You’re not alone! We’ve probably all made them, only to feel discouraged or even guilty for not sticking to them.
Because we treat resolutions like band-aids.
Sticking a bandage over a dirty festering wound is pretty much useless because the injury first needs cleaning out. And it’s the same with resolutions.
Resolutions won’t stick if we try adding them on to lives cluttered with rubbish.
We’ve got to clean house first! Get rid of all the unnecessary junk we cling to or let linger. And have a good plan of action for replacing it with healthy alternatives.
I learned this when we started going green. Our initial great intentions all proved worthless. We had diligently resolved to cut back on using single-use disposable products. Great idea but poor planning. With few food storage containers, I kept reaching for the foil or plastic wrap!
So first I needed replacements, like reusable storage containers, cloth napkins, and cloth cleaning rags. Then little by little we started using fewer food wraps, paper towels, and napkins. And the disposables vanished from my shopping list!
Now, I realize these products aren’t a huge deal, but the manufacturing of them does harm the environment. And I wanted to diminish that, so I needed both a resolution and a plan.
Yet how often do we resolve, perhaps year after year, to make changes that really do count in important ways?
Perhaps you have continuously made one or more of these five resolutions Christians commonly make:
- Devote more time to prayer, Bible study, and family.
- Keep a cleaner, neater home and garden.
- Cut back on computer, phone, or TV time.
- Spend less and save more.
- Eat healthier and exercise more.
But it quickly turns into a vicous cycle. We resolve only to get sidetracked. And then enter the cycle of feeling guilty, trying again, failing anew, and finally giving up while justifying our actions. And never make any real progress.
Great intentions are worthless without a plan and action.
I learned from my disposables dilemma that overcoming any bad habit or addiction (food, TV, shopping, or whatever), takes decisive action. We must first cut out the bad or unnecessary.
But often instead of eliminating the things that take us off track, we keep doing them. Or even add more of the same!
We get more TV channels. We try new junk food. And of course, we just have to visit that new shopping mall… And end up feeling guilty and discouraged.
If this rings a bell with you, take courage! Seeing the need for change is a good start. Now you just need a plan!
Try the Delete and Replace Method for making New Year’s resolutions more than ineffectual band-aid.
Here’s how this remedy could work with the five common resolutions listed above. These are just examples, but the basic principles apply to any area!
1. More prayer, Bible study, and family time.
|Apps, social media, or activities that steal your time with God and family.||Attending Bible studies or prayer groups, and set aside a date night or Family Fun Night!|
2. A cleaner, neater house and garden.
|Junk and clutter from your home, garage, and garden to eliminate disorder.||With prominently placed before and after pictures that mark progress and help you keep at it!|
3. Less computer, phone, or TV time.
|Subscribtions to emails or sites that don’t enrich your life. And cancel cable services, Netflix, etc.||Healthy or creative endeavors, reading, and time with family and friends. Or learn a new skill!|
4. less shopping and more savings.
|Unused clothing and things to help you realize how many blessings you have already have.||A savings account and new habits or traditions. Like Tuesday Tea with friends or library trips!|
5. ImproveD health and exercise.
|Junk food and sweets, and perhaps even your favorite arm chair!||Community support like walking with a friend, a support group, or a gym enrollment.|
What things do you need to elimate? And what additions could you make to ensure lasting change?
And remember that if you don’t at least try, you’ll never succeed!