Most resolutions made at the turn of a year, or at pretty much any other time for that matter, fail because they are too radical – too ambitious. Sometime over the Christmas season we have a chance to sit and take stock of where we are and consider where we want to be. It is the time for all the old familiar longings to come to the surface, fueled by the dreams of by-gone days, or by the realization that the future has arrived a whole lot faster than you had planned. Maybe some event triggers a desire for wholesale change – a complete makeover, inside and out. The latest “reality” programs on television make it clear that change – real change – is yours for the asking, if you have enough money, in just under an hour, and that mentality percolates down into our longings, compelling us to promise ourselves the world. Radical resolutions rarely see fulfillment. They simply don’t have the foundation to support their implementation.
Real change is accomplished in increments – a bit at a time. If it is your goal to finally make exercise a regular part of your lifestyle of stewardship, it is probably best not to schedule an hour long workout each day beginning at six in the morning! An approach more likely to succeed is one that has you doing stretching exercises and some cardio work two or three times a week for a month or two.
Likewise, if you desire to go deeper in your relationship with God, it is not likely to occur if you commit to an hour a day of intense prayer and study of the Word - especially if you are starting from zero. You will do better, with real and sustained change, if you give yourself a reasonable target – fifteen to thirty minutes a day, three or four days a week. If you fail to get it done one week, don’t quit, just try again next week. And, for God’s sake, don’t shame yourself for failing – graciously – gracefully – train into the new.
This time of year reminds me of learning to drive in the snow. Every once in a while, we would get stuck. The temptation was to just sit in the car and floor the accelerator, thinking that more was better. The result was that the spinning wheel heated up the snow under it, which formed a slick coat of ice. The result? More stuck after than before!
The solution was to gradually apply the gas, rock the car gently back and forth until you were able to feel the tire “grab”. Then you would gingerly give it just a bit more gas to get you going a bit at a time.
Life change is sort of the same. You have to get some traction – some “grab” – before you get unstuck. And the way to do that is a bit at a time.