Whether you call them resolutions or goals doesn’t really matter. The days between 12/25 and 1/1 are usually free of regular commitments, permitting time for reflection and evaluation, to set a course for the coming year. There’s something about flipping the calendar over that fills me with renewed vigor and hope. Yet before February 1, that hope dissipates when many of us find ourselves already off track. Before you lose inertia, here are a few tips to keep you on the wagon:
- Bundle it. To add a new habit, pair it with an existing habit, something you already do regularly. For example, I usually watch about 20 minutes of TV before turning in to bed. As part of my goals for this year, I’m hoping to become more flexible. (I’m currently starring in Cirque de No-Way.) So, TED talks will get me through the profanity-inducing moments on the foam roller and my nightly attempts to introduce my index finger to my big toe.
- Progress, not perfection. As someone with a black-or-white mindset, I frequently throw in the towel on progress towards a goal if I break my streak. Did you miss a day or two already on your Bible-in-a-year reading program? Don’t give up. If you don’t have time to catch up, at least resume with today’s reading. Reading any portion of God’s word is better than none! Same is true of healthy eating, daily exercise and financial discipline. God’s mercies are new every morning. (Lamentations 3:22-23)
- Write it out. All of it. You might have one large (seemingly insurmountable?) goal for the year. Or, like me, you might have a handful. In either case, writing out your goal in a phrase or sentence will help embed it in your mind — where you’ll need to have it in order to see it to fruition. Take it a few steps further, though, and write out what obstacles might impede your achievement of it and the tools you’ll use to overcome them. Here’s what it looks like on my goal sheet this year:
To be sure, none of these tips makes achievement of our goals a slam dunk. But, they are strategies that will help us inch closer to the finish line, slowly and steadily. The key, really, is simply staying on the wagon and trusting God to direct our paths.