Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The First Step in Conquering Resolutions

Statisticians tell us that 45% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, yet only 8% of people accomplish them (according to statisticsbrain.com). That’s an astonishing statistic! I find that success in goal setting boils down to one important component, which must be the first, vital step in conquering a New Year’s resolution.

I spent many years failing to meet New Year’s resolutions, in fact, I failed so often that there was a season in my life when I stopped making them at all.  However, targeted and intentional ambition is vital when one desires personal, spiritual, and professional growth.  Goals provide us with the road map to pursue our dreams. 

A goal can formulate at any time - the start of a new year, or on our birthday, during back to school season, or any other day on the calendar.   Every goal should pass the S.M.A.R.T. test:  is my goal  specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely?  If not, my goal needs some polish before I can work to achieve it.  Another effective way to evaluate a goal is determining whether it is important enough to protect, even when it costs me something. Am I willing to make the necessary tradeoffs to reach my goal? 

These are important points to consider when establishing goals or New Year’s resolutions.  However,  the most valuable component to goal setting is one that will help me press on and keep working when things get tough.  It’s easy to pursue a goal when it’s a new, great idea that I’m excited about, but I need something that will keep me walking through the trenches when distractions, temptations, or sheer exhaustion get in the way. 

The most helpful component in achieving goals is a compelling reason to succeed.  We must have a firm handle on the reason we want to achieve a goal and an intimate understanding of what’s at stake if we fail. When setting a goal or establishing a New Year’s resolution, the first step to achieving it is to clearly identify our “why.”

Our “why” is what makes us want to get out of bed in the morning.  It’s what generates excitement and helps move us from a great idea into tenacious action.  A strong “why” helps us picture our goal so vividly, we can’t imagine not achieving it.  It becomes the force that drives us when we’re tired, or bored, or fresh out of ideas about what to do next. A strong enough “why” helps us consider the cost as more of a trade off than a sacrifice.   

Our pastor pointed us to a particular Bible passage on Sunday and the Holy Spirit used it to speak new life into my “why.”  

Galatians 6:7b-9 For whatever a man sows he will also reap, because the one who sows to his flesh will reap corruption from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit. So we must not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up. (HCSB)

This reminder of God’s Truth made my spirit sing.  Yes, this is the drive that helps me press through weariness, and distractions and, sometimes even boredom. This promise poured into my cup:  if I continue to walk in obedience and pursue Kingdom purposes, I will reap at the proper time.  When I’m so tired that my bones ache and so burdened that I feel I can’t take another step, knowing that God is with me, that He sees my every need and promises to provide a harvest to reap at the exact moment He sees fit, THIS is what compels me forward.  

THIS is what helps me continue working on small, seemingly insignificant practices because I know this is the process of sowing and reaping.  A seed sometimes seems insignificant, too, but each seed is what we sow to reap a harvest. When I continue to sow into the things I seek, I will reap what I sow.  It’s a Kingdom principle.  One doesn’t plant a corn seed and harvest a watermelon.  When we sow corn, we reap corn. 

And, our pastor reminded us, when we plant a single corn seed, it produces a stalk of corn that’s covered with multiple ears of the sweet, juicy vegetable.  One seed produces a small harvest.  Lots of seed produces an entire crop and an abundant harvest.  The Kingdom principle is that our efforts are multiplied, often far beyond what we can ask or imagine. 

This compels me forward.  This moves me to action. This drives me out of bed in the morning and pushes away any thoughts of giving up on my goals.   This is my “why.”  I’m so grateful that the Lord reached into my cluttered life, pulled out this nearly forgotten Truth, dusted it off, and wrapped me in it.  

Your Turn: 

What is your "why?"  What will keep you pressing on toward your goals in 2014?

What seemingly insignificant steps will you take to begin your journey?

Be strengthened today, by the Word,

Psalm 119:28

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