I noticed while perusing the Sunday paper that treadmills are on sale. So are running shoes. The grocery stores suggest stocking up on Gatorade. It must be time to make New Year’s resolutions again.
They say if you aim at nothing you’ll hit it every time. While this is meant to be motivating in a different way, in the past, I have seen it as an easy A. The success rate is 100% just by aiming at nothing.
So we make resolutions. We aim out lives toward something and bring it into focus once a year. And by the third week in January, you can find a parking spot at the gym again. We tend to make arbitrary goals when we make them: I’d like to fit into my skinny jeans again. This is the year I will get organized once and for all. We need to save money for the kids college fund…. And we’re done.
I’m serious about the gym. I joined up a couple of years ago (not in January), and they actually sent out a memo warning that parking would be tricky for the first few weeks in January. Use the annex lot and avoid peak hours for about three weeks, then things would be back to normal. And they were spot on. The place was crowded with people in shiny new spandex, then all at once, it was back to the regulars.
Resolutions set on a whim are doomed to failure. Goals set without a plan are destined to quick and fiery expiration.
Goals fizzle before they take off because we don’t take the time to plan and we don’t keep our “eye on the prize.”
I ran a 5K a couple of summers ago. It was an easy one over flat, paved streets. The route was clearly marked with neon purple spray paint at every turn. As I trudged along, the thought crossed my mind, even I couldn’t get lost following these signs. And I can get lost anywhere. Anytime. It’s a gift. I finished the race toward the end of the middle pack, consumed a bottle of water and a banana and milled around for a bit. As I was getting ready to hop in the car and drive the three blocks to my house, the last two stragglers made it in. What took them so long? It was only 3 miles. I could crawl faster than that…
They got lost. With 6 foot neon arrows pointing the way, these two managed to miss a turn because they were talking to each other instead of keeping focused on the race they were running!
In Proverbs, Solomon advises, “The pans of the diligent lead surely to abundance” (21:5). The apostle Paul uses the race/prize analogy often in his letters. So whether you call it a resolution, a goal, an aim or a purpose, there’s not much sense to life without one. With that in mind, here are a few strategies to setting goals that might just stick this time.
- Set a clear, specific goal. Instead of “get up earlier,” be clear: “Set the alarm for 5:00am. When it goes off, get out of bed.”
- The goal should be attainable, measurable and consider circumstances that may be out of your control. Not "teach my child to read," rather "spend daily time intentionally instructing my child."
- If you have a big goal, break it into smaller chunks and re-evaluate throughout the year. Instead of “simplify my life by cleaning out my entire house and getting rid of everything I don’t need,” start smaller and give yourself a deadline: “Declutter and organize the office by January 5th.” Once that goal has been accomplished, plan the next step.
- Write down your plan and read it daily. Keeping the goal clearly in focus keeps you motivated and aware of where you are relative to attaining your goal. Seeing it in front of your eyes on a regular basis will keep you from missing fluorescent arrows pointing you in the right direction.
- Don't be afraid to re-adjust your goals if something that seemed reasonable at the time turns out not to be. Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred seemed like a wonderful plan. Until my bursitic knees caught fire and I had to hobble around for a few days. Sorry, Jillian. Back to flailing with Mari Winsor.
- Make yourself accountable. Share your goals with your husband, a trusted friend, or everyone on the internet and give them permission to ask you how you're doing. No fair letting them in on your plan then getting snippy when they ask how you’re doing. Sorry, honey :(
Make a goal and try to hit it. It could be fun. Happy resolving!
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.