By now, most of your friend’s new year’s resolutions are fleeting dreams dashed on the cold, harsh rocks of reality.
Not yours, of course; yours are positively humming – flying unhindered by the obstacles and apathy that may have derailed the hopes and dreams of others. Indeed, the unbridled enthusiasm with which you created your goals large and small only seem to be building in momentum, rather than faltering into February.
You’re part of the 12% (or the 8%, depending on the research you’re reading) so stand tall, yet humble. You’re still tracking towards the stuff you deemed worthy of effort, energy and discipline back on January 1 and while quitting isn’t in your vocabulary, a brief moment for a pat on the back is well-deserved.
Even though your virgin or re-virgined resolutions may be progressing just fine, it’s also possible that the hot fires of enthusiasm have been exchanged for a sober reality: great work is often slow work. In fact, this is likely a key to your current success.
For the benefit of your friends, most resolutions don’t fail because they’re unworthy or worthwhile, but because we have expectations that they’ll be realised overnight, or quickly. While we know that expectation is unmerited, there’s a little part of us that wants it all the same. The same part that abandons the slow work in light of reality.
‘I want it all, and I want it now’ is the delusional expectation with which some of us carry our resolutions and plans for the year.
Worthwhile stuff, though, that takes a little longer.
It’s a long game that we unintentionally sign up to play, but it often ends in short desperation as we realise our goals are far harder and will take far longer than first imagined.
When the place we ended the old year is the product of our neglect, the correction that we’re targeting in the new year will take as long or longer to realise. It shouldn’t surprise us that effecting significant change is more akin to manoeuvring a cruise liner than a solo canoe.
Our journeys seem even longer as our drifts and deviations are usually mindless, but effecting change demands mindfulness. Over the long haul.
You may have piled on 20 kilograms last year, and you may regret that you made that happen but, unless you were gearing up for a particular movie role, the chances are that the weight gain was from incidental neglect, not a resolute intent. The product of hundreds of questionable decisions no doubt, but hardly a goal that you were diligently pursuing.
Moving towards our goals, though, usually requires strong resolution. If they’re worthwhile pursuits in the first place.
Our problem, in part, is that we are easily discouraged.
Let’s face it, having someone tell you that your preferred destination will require hard work, self-denial, and steadfast application tends to lose the audience quickly. Who wants to know that? What we find ourselves wanting is a ‘limited time offer infomercial that will lose our weight as we sleep without any exercise or dietary modification required.’ Or whatever the on-steroids version of our goal might look like. We’re a bit bummed they’re bogus.
It turns out we are wired for just a few things: relationship and work feature on a pretty short list. When we assume that everything should come easy, the path to disappointment is always short.
Perhaps the greatest hope of any new resolution by January 29 is that you’re getting a sniff of where you’re heading before dropping your bundle. Or that you set yourself some tasks that are readily achievable. Anyone who set a goal of getting out of bed this year (at least once) should feel pretty chuffed right now. But the bigger stuff, that requires a greater hope rather than a fervent longing.
I haven’t seen Star Wars Rogue One, but I know it contains the memorable line: “Rebellions are built on hope”.
People don’t wage war with the status quo based on whim or apathy. They aren’t moved by anger, frustration, discontent, or even by being prodded so hard that you’ll move. It’s hope that is the most potent fuel for change – to hope in something yet to come is to fuel the rebellion for change.
To cultivate the rhythm of hope in our lives, whether it’s a primary hope in Jesus, the hope of shedding a few unwanted kilogrammes, or the hope of moving into uncharted waters of friendship or community as we head into the new year, is to allow, decide and determine to shape our lives based on our intended destination, not our current location.
Resolutions fail because they were based on a nice idea rather than an enduring hope. They weren’t driven by the intended destination.
Whatever rebellion you might launch in 2017 won’t be won on diet, exercise, a goal list, perspective, or even vision. You need something that’s bigger than you, bigger than your weakness, and stronger than your goals. A living hope.
It’s a hope that the destination to which you’re heading is more compelling than the territory that you are trying to leave behind.
And, if it’s not only your friends who have been part of that 88% but you as well, don’t drop your bundle. These are the early days of 2017. There’s still 336 days to get steady with slow work.
*Study by Richard Wiseman, British Psychologist, 2007