Ditch New Year’s Resolutions For Something Bigger

Wait! What just happened? Has ANOTHER year passed? Again?! It seems like just a few weeks ago I was making plans to lose weight, go to the gym more, get more organized, spend less, save more, enjoy life to the fullest, learn something exciting, help others, spend more time with family, etc., etc.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t achieve everything on my list. Not even close. Last year’s “resolutions” (those hope-filled promises we make to ourselves) didn’t work out as well as I’d hoped.

I’m guessing we have similar lists. And, my hunch is your resolutions didn’t fully work for you either. I see it in the numbers — according to the Statistic Brain Research Institute*, a huge percentage of us resolve to change things along the same lines.

  • 47% Self Improvement or education related resolutions
  • 38% Weight related resolutions
  • 34% Money related resolutions
  • 31%  Relationship related resolutions

We ALL want SOMETHING more out of life. It’s universal. And our problems are similar. Take a glance at these ‘resolution’ lists. They reveal something really important about our approach to life. Whether or not you make formal “resolutions” (and about half of us do), the desire for our best possible life exists in all of us.

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Our shared approach to a better life? — We focus our thinking on what we DON’T like about ourselves and our lives.

We feel flabby so we need more gym. Or we feel lost or bored or out-of-touch, so we need to read more. Or we feel unproductive or inefficient, so we need to do more. Or work less. Or need to de-clutter. Or get organized. The list goes on and on. It sounds utterly exhausting. And even if we DO accomplish all our “resolutions”, are we really any closer to our REAL goals?

We treat symptoms and hope it brings the cure.  But it doesn’t work.  In fact, only 8% of us* actually succeed in achieving our resolutions.

Treating symptoms doesn’t cure. And, it is why focusing on all that is wrong with our lives doesn’t cure us. In fact, it’s not the specific things (the symptoms) that are the problem — we need a different approach.

Maybe this year we should do things differently!

Instead of focusing on what we don’t like about ourselves or our lives, we could try focusing on what we DO like. About our self. About others. AND then agree to do/be more of THAT. . . . And even better still, instead of another year spent treating our symptoms, what might happen if we were to resolve this year to start with our real goal in mind?!

I want to think about the kind of STORY I want to live.

It’s a centering thought — what kind of story am I living right now? Like, if I had to tell you my story, would it be interesting? Would it be exciting? Would it have depth and texture? Would it be heroic? Would it be sacrificial? Would it show and demonstrate a great love? And I have to be honest with myself, it doesn’t contain all those things. I want it to.

What kind of story do you want to live?

In every good story there is a main character. And that character has to want something. In a good story the character has to overcome something to get it, usually involving danger or challenge or growth or personal sacrifice. And, in the best stories, the character is transformed along the way.

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The self that embarks on the journey is not the self that arrives. 

~ David Benner

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So, how do we pull this off?  METHOD: Keep It Simple.

This year, ask yourself a simple question — “What kind of story do I want tell this time next year?”

I mean, if you could sit down with me a year from now, sitting in well-worn chairs on your porch overlooking the woods, kids in bed, drinks in hand, a warm evening breeze, and as all that is false is faded away, what is the story you hope you’ll be sharing with me? Will it be interesting? Will it have excitement? Will it have depth and texture? Will it be heroic? Will it be a tale of great sacrifice? Will you speak of deep friendship? Great love?

Small, consistent course-corrections have a more beneficial and lasting effect than a “big fix” or one-time effort. So this year, rather than a laundry list of goals and things not to do and lists of “have to’s“, when moments become crossroads ask yourself the simple question — “What kind of story do I want to live?” And make a choice toward that story.

Don’t make it about how much change you notice; what matters most are the small adjustments along the way. This process of re-centering your thoughts and choices and prayers around the story you want to live is a key to finding the life you’ve always wanted to live.

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It is the dull, bald, dreary, commonplace day, with commonplace duties and people, that kills the burning heart. . . If the Spirit of God has stirred you, make as many things inevitable as possible, let the consequences be what they will.  

~ Oswald Chambers

 

So, what kind of story do you want to live?

Where do you need to make things ‘inevitable as possible’?

What are you going to do about it?

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Looking forward to our next chapters,

Mark

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I wished to live deliberately… [and not] when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.
~ Henry David Thoreau

I came that they may have life, and have it in abundance!
~ Jesus

~ Henry David Thoreau.
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*   Statistics from http://www.statisticbrain.com/new-years-resolution-statistics/
** Most Common New Year’s Resolutions Chart is from  http://fivethirtyeight.com/datalab/only-44-percent-of-americans-made-new-years-resolutions/

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