The Key to Keeping Your 2019 Resolutions
In the spirit of the New Year, I’d like to share a personal story about New Year’s resolutions.
Some of you may not know this, but 7 years ago I weighed nearly 400 pounds. The day was New Years Eve, 2011, and I knew I needed to discipline myself to lose 250 pounds and lose it fast! I didn’t know how I was going to do it nor how I would stay focused, but I was determined that it was going to happen, and nothing could stop me. It was all set… I would wake up each morning at 3AM, super motivated, before my daily 4-hour weight workout that would warm me up for a 19-mile jog.
Exercise was important, but I’m pretty sure diet was the key. An important factor was drinking a glass of orange juice that had been organically hand-squeezed the way a blog I read said to hand-squeeze it, but it also had to be the kind infused with glacier water that had locked in the right blend of purified nutrients since the ice age. With this carefully-balanced plan, I could be successful. I even surprised myself when I saw that nearly 100 pounds had just melted away in the first month! I ended-up ahead of schedule, dropping 251 pounds in just 3 months!
If this story sounds too good to be true, that’s because it is. There’s a lot of talk this time of year about making resolutions. Whether you intend to make a physical, financial, spiritual, or some other resolution, it’s important to have a game-plan for success. Just before heading off to serve in Nepal, in January 2012 a leader at my orientation shared some wise advice that has helped me roadmap various goals since then.
You may have even heard this before, but this leader shared the importance of having S.M.A.R.T. goals.
- Specific. As the old adage goes… if you aim for nothing, you’re sure to hit it every time. So be sure you know specifically what you’re shooting for in 2019.
- Measurable. How are you supposed to know whether you’ve reached your goal if you have not defined it within measurable bounds?! Plus, if you’re a visual person like myself, it’s always motivating when I can chart out my progress toward a particular goal. I always think back to elementary school, when I would watch the United Way progress thermometer fill up as our school worked toward our giving goal.
- Achievable. Having an achievable goal is the key to avoiding discouragement, especially early on in your journey. if our goals are unrealistic, we can get discouraged when we make it harder on ourselves to actually follow-through. Like my hypothetical story above, if you were to oversleep your 3AM wakeup goal and subsequently cut short your 19-mile run because you weren’t able to fulfill your 4-hour weight room session, then you’re probably going to find it even harder to do the next day. If you’re like me, when you skip a day, it can be even more tempting to justify falling more off track, saying something like “well… I already screwed up yesterday, what’s another day going to hurt?” Knowing your own limits and setting achievable goals can help avoid this hang-up and keep you from getting discouraged along the way.
- Relevant. Be sure to set goals that are consistent with your overall life plan. This may seem obvious, but many times we fail to see the big picture. Know what your overall, long-term goals are (think decades out). Then reverse-engineer what your smaller goals are, so that they’re in-line with what you want to accomplish. For example, if you want to own your own business, what are you doing now to build your skills and achieve that end. Our daily activities should be in line with our higher-level vision for where we want to be in the future.
- Time-sensitive. Procrastination is what we’re trying to guard against here. Having goals that are both measurable and time-sensitive gives yourself rules, which you can use to judge whether you’re successful or not.
If you’re looking for some helpful resources to get you motivated, here are two that really encouraged our family in 2018 and that are sure to get you off on the right foot in 2019: 1) Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University and book, “The Total Money Makeover,” and 2) Dr. Henry Cloud’s “Boundaries” book.
As always, keep everything in perspective and realize that nothing ultimately matters anyway unless it’s done for the one true God. Colossians 3:23-24 says “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”