By Pastor Adrian Dunne
In theory, New Year’s Resolutions should be easy to keep for a believer in Christ. Christians are individuals who are typically able to recognize their own shortcomings by comparing their life to scripture. Additionally, Christians should have an inner desire for growth and for change as a result of their commitment to Christ.
In reality, growth and change can be extremely difficult to embrace – both for Christians and non-Christians alike. For many of us, we have spent years nurturing our bad habits, so breaking them cold turkey is not so easy. However, even though habits may be difficult to break, it is not impossible if given the right approach.
That said, here are some tips on how to make successful life changes and to keep you from breaking those New Year’s resolutions after one week.
- Assess Each Category of your Life – physical, emotional, spiritual, financial, relational, etc. Critique where you have seen success and where you have seen failure. Be honest. Identify the areas you have been least successful in.
- Set Specific Goals – instead of saying “I want to read the Bible more,” set a realistic goal of how much scripture you would like to read in a specific amount of time. Being realistic is essential – reading 10 chapters a day is not realistic, but reading one or two chapters is.
- Share Your Goals with Others. Going public with your goals and intentions is a great first step in social accountability. It is easy to back out of a new commitment when no one knows about it.
- Use External Support Systems – calendars, alarms, and reminders are all fantastic ways to help you stay on track with your goals. Set a daily alarm on your phone to remind you to engage in your new habit.
- Set the Appropriate Task to Achieve Your Goals – if your goal is to lose 2lbs a week, how will you accomplish this? Be specific. If you plan to work out, what kind of work out will you do and how many times a week will you do it? If you plan to eat healthily, what kind of foods will you eat and/or how many calories will you consume?
- Find an Accountability Partner – an accountability partner is someone that you have not only shared your goals with, but someone that will regularly hold you to those goals. If your plan is to increase your prayer life, find someone who already regularly prays and ask them to keep you committed to your goals – showing them a prayer journal is one way to help them keep you accountable.
- Re-evaluate Progress Periodically – after a period of time (one week, one month, three months, etc.) re-evaluate your progress. Are you on track? Are you slipping behind? Are your goals unrealistic? Make adjustments if necessary.
- Celebrate Success! Winners are always rewarded and a pat on the back goes a long way in maintaining your new habits.
Let me know what you think. What helps you successfully make changes in your life?