New Year’s resolutions. You heard of ‘em? Some people love them, some people hate them.
If you’re new to resolutions, they might look like this…
You write something down, tell your friends about it, post about it on Instagram and just about shout it from the rooftops. It’s an incredible thing to think of how your life could be in the future if you just changed ______ or did ______ or went to ________ or got into a relationship with Mr./Mrs. __________.
Most of the time resolutions are about moving away from the things you want to change in your life, but can’t seem to make it stick. The most consistent, chart-topping resolutions are about physical health. Losing weight, eating healthier, exercising more frequently. You get the picture. The idea of change is absolutely freeing, elating and empowering all at the same time. There's even a romance to it.
Then... the hard work begins.
You have to actually try to do the thing that you said you would do.
What we find on the other side of a few weeks of discipline is that it’s really difficult to change. It takes an incredible amount of commitment, and discipline.
Sadly, most of the time, resolutions aren’t kept.
A brief google search shows a survey over 10 years yielding that only 23% of people keep their resolution, and 35% break it before the first month is up.
Another study puts the number of people who are successful in keeping their resolution at 8%. Now that’s just insane!
So what do we do? How do we respond to these disillusioning statistics? It seems that we don’t know how to change (speaking broadly), or that at least, we’re not committed to it.
Unfortunately, it seems like most of the time, the response is just to not try to change. The most popular resolution is to not make a resolution. While this definitely does not necessarily mean that people aren’t trying to change if they’re not making new year’s resolutions, sitting out doesn't exactly seem like a solution.
If we’re looking at the cultural landscape, of the 50% who make resolutions, only about 23% makes it, and the other 50% doesn’t even play the game, things aren’t looking too good.
To put it simply,
We don’t know how to change.
How People Change
The process below is from educational psychologist Benjamin Bloom, which I discovered in Peter Scazerro’s book The Emotionally healthy leader. It’s been incredibly helpful in how I think about change, so I wanted to include it.
For our purposes, we’ll use having a healthy rest/life balance as our example.
- Awareness: “Slowing down is an interesting idea” You recognize that living a different way, could be beneficial.
- Ponder: “Help me understand more about slowing down.” ‘what does it look like?’ Reading books, listening to people talk about it, conversing with friends about it.
- Value: “I really believe it is important for everybody to slow down.” You might dabble in adopting the behavior shift that you want to see, but usually you don’t consistently experience the results. The important thing, is the belief is that the change is valuable goes deep down into you. (note the gap in the chart)
- Prioritize “I am shifting my entire life around as I slow down to be with Jesus” Here, the change moves from belief to practical as radical reprioritizing makes it important enough to do.
- Own: “All my decisions and actions are based on this new value"
All too often we live in the gap between valuing and prioritizing something. The underlying question is ‘do we actually believe the change is valuable enough to change our actions?'
and perhaps, ‘where does the power to change come from?’
If it is only from the power of our wills, history shows us that we won’t last long.
A man named Paul from ages past has an incredible encouragement, originally written to a minority group in Rome.
"So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”
Real change comes from fixing your attention on the teacher. Real change is only possible when your identity starts with the new person, and the involves undressing the layers of the old, and laying them aside. Real change starts with a gift. It starts with love. It starts with something you could never do yourself.
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.vFor we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
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