The New Year's Resolution of Believers

Use the SMART Priniciple to Successfully Accomplish New Years Resolutions

Many people make New Year's resolutions with good intentions, but often fail, even within the first few weeks after January 1. Studies conclude that the reason people fail to stick with their goal(s) is actually a failure in planning. Plan ahead. Don’t wait until December 31 to start thinking through how to do something. To start or stop something takes thought and preparation and, as someone said, failing to plan is planning to fail.

One method of selecting and achieving resolutions is called the SMART principle, an acronym for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-specific. First, be specific, not vague and general, and define exactly and in detail what the goal is. Secondly, there must be a way to measure progress. Have specific steps to accomplish, and time deadlines, both of which can be checked. Third, be confident that the goal is achievable, which will likely require some self-analysis to determine ones capability before taking on the goal. Although a goal may be a challenge, it cannot be unrealistic, or disappointment is guaranteed..

Finally, set a time frame for achievement of the goal. Obviously, depending on what it is, it may take a day, a week or several months. Again, this should be thought through in a realistic way. For example, losing 10 pounds a week may be possible, but it is unhealthy. A goal of cleaning the garage might be achievable in a few hours, or in one day, but completing a college course in accounting might take a few months. It might be wise to start and finish one thing at a time, rather than trying to tackle several new things all at once.

Most experts agree that it helps to write goals down in a journal or planner. This can serve as a reminder and may even help generate incentive as the days and weeks go by. Action plans can be made for daily, weekly or monthly measurable progress. Some people enjoy journaling and others do not. The method is not necessarily important, but results are, so do whatever works.

For example, there are many diet and weight loss plans available. Select one and commit to it. The key is more often the commitment, not the plan. The willpower to accomplish ones goals can be kept strong by remembering the benefits of succeeding. Read the goal daily, or have a picture to look at. Perhaps have a partner striving for the same results. Ecclesiastes 4:9 and 10 offers good advice. “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up.” This may not always apply, but the point is clear.

Dr. Maxwell Maltz wrote a book called Psycho-Cybernetics, first published in 1960. Motivational speakers and self-help gurus like Tony Robbins and Zig Ziglar have based their techniques on Maxwell Maltz.

In his book, Dr. Maltz, a plastic surgeon, observed that it took 21 days to form a new habit. Brain circuits produce neuro-connections and neuro-pathways only if there are repeated actions for 21 days in a row. It has since been accepted as a fact that the human mind takes almost exactly twenty-one days to adjust to a major life change, negative or positive. In short, if, for example, a goal such as changing eating habits or taking daily walks, or quitting smoking has been selected, it takes at least twenty-one days to train the brain and establish a new habit.

This becomes particularly interesting when considering the principles of the renewed mind introduced in Romans 12:2: ““And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…”” Ephesians and Colossians teach the Christian to put off certain ways of thinking and acting and to put on or replace those old ways with new ways.

Striving for perfection isn’t the worst thing. But it is important to understand that it takes time to change habits and lifestyles. Often it takes extra time and effort to reach an important personal goal, but the result is well worth it. Instant success might be an unrealistic expectation, so if there is a temporary setback or postponement, try again.

Basketball great Michael Jordan said, “I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I've lost more than 300 games. Twenty-six times I've been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. . . . And that is why I succeed.”

Written by: Pete Miller




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