That number conjures up images of flying cars, robot butlers, and pristine cloud cities. My childhood fantasy couldn’t be farther from reality. We still drive regular cars, zero robot butlers, and as far as I’ve seen there are no cloud cities, much less ones that are pristine.
While we may not be living in a futuristic robot utopia, there is something special that happens at the turning of the new year. We contemplate the past year and begin looking forward to the next. With that comes New Year’s Resolutions.
New Year’s Resolutions date back to 153 BCE in ancient Rome. January is named after the roman god Janus. The Romans believed that Janus had two faces, one looking back and one looking forward. On Dec. 31 the romans pictured Janus looking back at the old and forward into the new. This was a time when the romans would make promises for the new year and forgive grievances from the previous. Thus, New Year’s Resolutions were born.
Every year we make them and every year we break them. According to U.S. News and World Report 80% of New Year’s Resolutions fail by February (Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail, 12/5/18).
What if we aren’t meant to make New Year’s resolutions? What if the whole idea of goal setting is just setting us up for failure? James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, said “You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.”
Making promises to yourself without a plan does nothing but end in disappointment. So if you’re really wanting to do something new (read the Bible more, get into shape, learn a new skill, etc.) let me give you some thoughts that have helped me over the past year.
I don’t set goals, not anymore.
When I met a goal then it was automatically on to the next. And when I achieved that one then what? Come up with a new goal? And then another? Going from one goal to the next is no way to live. So I stopped.
The same with resolutions. I’ve never kept one and always felt bad when I failed. Yet every year I felt pressure to come up with one. So I did. Eat better…lose weight…learn a new language…be better husband, father, son, friend…blah blah. Every year new resolutions and every year new failures. My years always started out with the best intentions and goals but I always failed. Why?
Think of it like this: I’m a huge Dallas Cowboy fan. I have been my whole life. When the owner Jerry Jones hired Jimmy Johnson in 1989 he came with a plan. He knew how to build a winning championship team. He traded their only star player, Hershel Walker, to the Minnesota Vikings for a boatload of draft picks. With those picks he built the team of the 90’s. He coached two of the three Super bowl winning teams. Since those days the Cowboys have literally played .500 ball. Each new coach came in with the same goals as Jimmy Johnson but none of them have had the structure in place to repeat the success.
See the difference? They all had the same goals. But only one coach had the structure in place to actually pull it off.
Setting goals sets you up for failure. Because it’s not about your goals, it’s about your structures.
Don’t worry about where you are, worry about where you’re going
Last April I finally realized that I was turning 43. I remember thinking that my grandpa (on my mom’s side) died at 49. He was just six years older than I was going to be and he died. I remember how hard that death was. It was the first time I remember my mom crying like she did. I didn’t want that for my kids.
I was overweight, not sleeping well and was taking high blood pressure medication. I was not healthy.
Imagine you were flying from LA to NY. If your pilot made a small change of direction do you think you’d notice? Probably not. If the pilot changed course by just 3.5 degrees south, you would land in Washington D.C. instead of New York City. That’s a difference of 207 miles by air. Just a small change and you landed in a completely different location.
Now imagine doing that with your life. Making small incremental changes, knowing that they will drastically alter your destination over time. And that’s all I did.
I stopped eating junk food. No more chips, candy, soda. Small change.
I stopped staying up late. I worked out in the mornings. Small change.
I started with push-ups, sit ups and body weight squats. Small change.
I looked for a cheap weight set & bought one for $50. Small change.
Small change after small change after small change. All imperceptible at the time. All of it adding up over the days, weeks and months.
Since April I have lost 40lbs of fat, gotten off my high blood pressure medication, sleep better, feel better and am the healthiest I’ve been since high school or college.
I don’t have an end goal. I love the process.
I’m not so much worried about where I am. I just keep focused on where I’m going.
I love and hate Netflix. I love it because it has so many options. I hate it because it has so many options. Have you ever gotten on Netflix, flipped through all the shows and movies for like an hour and either settled on something you’ve seen already (like The Office…you should pick that one while you can) or just not watched anything at all?
Whether it’s reading the Bible more or getting healthy sometimes the options paralyze you. Take reading the Bible for instance:
Where do I begin?
Should I start at the beginning and read it like a book?
Do I even read the Old Testament?
Should I just start with what Jesus said?
What version do I read?
Do I have to read a whole chapter every time?
Does it count if I use an app?
So many options often keep us from doing anything at all.
Newton’s first law of thermodynamics says that an object of rest stays at rest and an object at motion stays in motion unless acting upon by an unbalanced force. Break that down:
An object at rest stays at rest- if you keep doing nothing then nothing will change. You can make all the plans and charts and memberships you want, but until you get up and do something…nothing will happen.
An object in motion stays in motion- just start. Whatever it is you’re wanting to do… JUST START! It doesn’t matter if you have all the answers or the route all plotted out. Just go.
You can either remain at rest wishing you were doing the thing you’d like or you can start.
When I started working out I started with body weight exercises. I tried to do 4 sets of 20 pushups. I couldn’t do it. Not even close. So I did 4 sets of whatever amount I could do. Over time the amount I could do increased.
It doesn’t matter what you’re wanting to do. Whether it’s more Bible/quiet time, a healthier lifestyle, learning to paint, start hiking, playing with your kids, going back to school, starting a business…none of that happens if you don’t just start.
Take that first step. Open that first book. Throw the first ball. Pick up the paint brush. Make a phone call. The moment you start in motion you will tend to stay in motion. Whatever you’re wanting to do…just start.
Over the next couple of weeks, I’m going to share with you what I’m doing (physical and spiritual wellness) and how I do it. Let’s walk into 2020, ready to receive what God has in store for us.