We’re almost halfway through the first month of the year. Have you broken your New Year’s resolutions yet?
Many of those I’ve heard making New Year’s resolutions sounded quite positive. And that got me thinking. Most people really do sound positive when making resolutions. People tend to feel encouragement in having a blank slate.
But then they feel the onset of reality as they begin to fill that slate. And before long, the resolutions made with hope don’t evoke the changes so wished for. Why is that?
I think it’s because resolutions are nothing more than wishes. Wishes don’t lead to greatness, but goals do. And so does partnering with the Lord in establishing and working towards goals.
Resolutions, on the other hand, are just wishes because there’s no plan, just a declaration of desire. That’s the first reason why I think most resolutions don’t last outside the first two weeks of the year. Wishes without a plan don’t inspire anyone to reach for greatness because they don’t really demand any use of agency beyond expressing a simple sentiment.
LDS singles are no different from anyone else when it comes to relying on habits in daily living. We’re all designed to operate out of habit. That’s why when some new way of doing anything comes along, we feel suspicious and apprehensive. Our natural design as human beings influences us to shy away from any interference with our habits.
But no one lives fully without living intentionally. That means making conscious choices about your actions. And often those actions reside well outside the bounds of habit.
It’s so easy to fall back into the complacency of wishes. But if you want to embrace life and turn yours around, you need to make conscious choices to own your life and set goals that move you towards the changes you want.
The best goals are SMART. SMART means Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Timely. What does that mean?
Specific means clearly defining the change you want. Losing weight is not specific. Losing 15 pounds is specific.
Measurable means having a standard against which to compare your performance. Spending more time with a loved one is great but not measurable. How much time is more? An hour? A minute? Spending at least one hour each week with So-and-so is measurable; you can count the time you spend each week and compare it to a standard.
Actionable means keeping your goal within your control. Every year many LDS singles make the bad goal to get married. Getting married is good and very desirable but relies on the agency of another person. A better goal would be to work on something inside your control that will make you more marriageable.
Realistic means having a plan you can reasonably complete. Losing 15 pounds in a year is very reasonable. Losing 15 pounds in a week is not.
Timely means having a deadline. Writing in your journal at least 4 times a week is specific, measurable, actionable, and realistic, but not timely. Writing in your journal at least 4 times a week during February is.
Being SMART helps us refine our goals but not determine what they should be. Here’s the second reason why I think resolutions fail many people. They often take people in the wrong direction.
By wrong direction, I mean a direction that’s wrong for them. A goal that’s very right for one might not be so right for another. We need to embrace goals fitted to us and our particular life situation.
That’s where partnering with the Lord comes in. Christ can make more out of our lives than we ourselves can. When we fully receive His marvelous Atonement, we embrace the power by which all personal improvement is made.
We know the Atonement can cleanse us from sin. And we also know the Atonement can heal us and sustain us along the bumpy road of mortality. But the Atonement also turns weaknesses into strengths. And isn’t that what achieving goals is all about?
If you’re making and striving towards goals, you’re on the road to achievement. But if you’re partnering with the Lord to make and achieve your goals, you’re on the road to inspirational greatness. That’s a life fully lived, a life far greater in influence and far deeper in joy than we could ever make on our own.
January may be halfway over, but the year is still just beginning. If you haven’t made partnered with the Lord to make the goals that are right for you in 2016, there’s still time. Make the conscious choice today to own your life and partner with the Lord. Then you’ll be on your way to experience the joy of living fully.
Howdy! I'm Lance, host of Joy in the Journey Radio. I've been blogging about LDS singles life since 2012, and since 2018 I've been producing a weekly radio show to help LDS singles have more joy in their journey and bring all Latter-day Saints together. Let's engage a conversation that will increase the faith of LDS singles and bring singles and marrieds together in a true unity of the faith.
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