OPINION COLUMNS

New Year’s resolution results guaranteed – or your money back!

By Gerry Lewis | Published Wednesday, January 1, 2014

{{{*}}}Do I have your attention? Now if I could only figure out how to get you to send me ONLY $19.99 for this amazing secret, I could achieve my resolution of becoming independently wealthy.

Most New Year’s resolutions are broken by Jan. 6. Are we really that bad? Lazy? Incompetent? Weak?

I think it’s more an issue of focus. It’s not that we can’t focus, but that we focus on the wrong things. So what I am offering here are two focus-shifters and four strategies that I am absolutely convinced will bring us positive results in 2014.

1) Instead of focusing on the “what” or even the “how,” focus on the “why.” Focusing on the “what” would be something like, “I am going to lose weight.” Focusing on the “how” might be, “I am going to limit my calorie intake to 2,000 per day and exercise for 30 minutes at least three days a week.” Those are great “hows” to support the “what.” But why? Here’s where we stumble. Focusing on the “why” could be, “I am going to develop a healthier lifestyle so that I can be more healthy and effective in everything I do.”

2) Instead of focusing on personal benefits, focus on benefits to others. That good “why” of being more healthy and effective becomes a great “why” when I am more healthy and effective so that I can be a greater blessing to my family and my world. Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love God completely, and the second is to love others (Matthew 22:37-40). He even commanded us to love others like He loves (John 15:12).

So, now that our focus is adjusted, we need some strategies.

1) Accountability: Enlist a trusted partner to be your “alarm clock” for your “what, how and why.” It works even better if the accountability is mutual, encouraging each other.

2) Deadlines: Always keeping your “why” at the forefront, develop some short-term markers along the way. “By March 1, I will have lost 8 pounds or paid off $500 in debt or written three chapters of my book.” The best thing that ever happened to my writing was having a weekly deadline for the newspaper.

3) Grace: Don’t let failure be your final answer. If you don’t reach a goal by the deadline, don’t give up. Set a new goal, renegotiate your accountability and start again. Consider it a brief layover on the journey.

4) Prayer: Never underestimate the value of your most powerful accountability partner. Some of the most important “whys” are too hard to keep in focus when life happens. Each day is a new chance to begin focusing on the reality that your life – with all the “whats, hows, and whys” – matters to God.

I can’t guarantee you will keep your resolutions, but I can guarantee you will see God at work. And that’s worth way more than $19.99.

Dr. Gerry Lewis, author, blogger, church consultant and leadership coach, serves as executive director of the Harvest Baptist Association headquartered in Decatur.

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