It’s January and the shops are selling gym equipment, the gyms are selling fitness classes, the bookshops are selling diet books and the supermarkets are selling low calorie celery! Whether you call it Dry January or Red January, the start of the New Year is often a time of change through a variety of resolutions including some of the most popular ones:
Turn your phone off, eat vegetarian one day a week, stop buying shoes, walk to work, read more books, start gardening, be more charitable, hug more, bake more, visit a relative you haven’t seen in ages, save some money, change jobs, move house, find a new relationship, sort out your existing relationships, eat less fat, eat more fat and so it goes on…
We start the year with good intentions, we write our plans down, we tell our friends and family, we create a video and put it on social media and then quietly our plans disappear one by one. We are not alone, the majority of us fail to complete our ambitions for the year. Very few people actually end the year having achieved what they set out to do.
The only way to make changes that last is when you make ONE SMALL yet MEASURABLE action. The big ideas and long lists sound inspiring, but they rarely work. The list of most popular resolutions often suggest that they will do more exercise or eat less food. But this is really hard to gauge. It needs to be a SMALL adjustment that is MEASURABLE. I will exercise for ___ minutes a week, I will stop eating ____, I will read my Bible ____ times a week, I will write a budget to save ___ per month, turn my phone off at ____ each evening (fill in the blanks!).
If you make one change to your routine every year then in ten years you will have made ten healthy habits that will have a huge impact on your life.
For years, I wanted to read my bible more, prayer more, eat less, exercise more, make better use of my time, etc. but each year I would write a long list and hope for the best and nothing would change. Then six years ago I decided to only make one small change, to read my Bible every morning before I started my day. For the last six years, I have continued to do that each day. Since then I have made one simple and measurable change each year such as getting up earlier to make better use of my time, getting rid of distractions, reading more books, exercising regularly, creating specific routines of prayer. I’m still working on the food thing, I tried one year to simply stop having second helpings, but I just gave myself bigger first helpings instead!
I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. Philippians 3:12-15
Good advice from the Biblical writer Paul – forget your previous efforts, keep pressing on and reaching out for the standards Christ set as he reaches out for you.
If you want to make a BIG Change this year, begin with one SMALL and MEASURABLE step.