Why You Should Make New Year’s Resolutions – and How to Actually Accomplish Them

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I never thought I would be a New Year’s resolution type of person, but over the years I have learned a few things about myself and about New Year’s resolutions that have changed my mind.

Here are some quick statistics for you:
One study shows as few as 8% of people accomplish their resolutions.
However, that same study shows that people who make resolutions are as much as 10x more likely to achieve their goals than people who don’t.

People who make resolutions are as much as 10x more likely to achieve their goals than people who don’t

In a way, the New Year is a strange holiday. We aren’t celebrating a grand event in the past which changed the course of history, as we do at Easter or Independance Day. We are not celebrating the birth of a great figure as we do at Christmas or Martin Luther King Jr. Day. We are not celebrating a class of people as we do on Labor Day, Veterans Day or Mothers Day. All we are really celebrating is that the Earth went all the way around the sun again; which we could theorertically celebrate any day of the year. We have gotten to the end of our calendar, which begins on an arbitrary date.

However, I have come to greatly appreciate this holiday, because it gives us something to measure time by. And albeit slightly contrived, it does give us the sense of a new beginning, a fresh start.

On my desk in my office, I have a book stand, and on that stand is a notepad. For the past 2 years, I have been writing down several goals for the year, ranging from personal goals, to items related to my marriage and family to ministry and prayer topics, which I would like to see come to fruition in that coming year. Then for the rest of the year, I leave that notepad right there, always in constant view, so that I see it every day when I sit down and get to work.

The reason I started doing this was because I read somewhere that goals which get written down are much more likely to be accomplished. I think there’s more that goes into accomplishing goals, but that’s a good start.

Over the past 2 years that I have been doing this, I have been amazed how at the end of the year, almost all of the things which I wrote down have become reality. 2016’s list had about 20 items on it, and at the end of this year, only 2 of them remain unrealized. Those items will be rolled over into 2017’s list, but even those are not to be considered failure, as having them on the list for the past year led to them being topics of prayer that I brought before God almost daily and asked for His will to be done.

The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps. (Proverbs 16:9)

Why You Should Make New Year’s Resolutions:

  1. If you set a goal and write it down, you are 10x more likely to do it than if you don’t.

  2. If done right, it can guide your prayer life and help you to see and rejoice in God’s faithfulness.

  3. If you set God-honoring goals, planning and working towards them are acts of faith and obedience to God.

    Setting goals which you cannot accomplish on your own keeps you on your knees and dependent on God, pushing forward and asking Him to do great things.

How to Actually Accomplish Your Resolutions:

  • Make Decisions.

Without a strategy, your resolutions will likely only remain a good intention, and we know what those pave the road to… This Forbes article points out that the huge difference between “intentions” and “decisions”: stating that most people don’t follow through on intentions, but they do follow through once they’ve actually made a decision.

This year one of my goals is to run a half-marathon. Rather than just writing it down, I’ve also gone online, picked out the race I want to run, signed up and paid for it, and signed up for a training program. Whatever your goal is, don’t let it remain only a good intention, make a concrete plan for how it is going to become reality.

  • Use Your Calendar.

Time is kind of like money: you’ve only got so much of it, so you’ve got to budget it. Be strategic and schedule things that are important to you into your calendar. If you want to pray and read the Bible more, scedule it into your day. If you want to spend more time with your kids, schedule it into your day. If you want to read or write more, schedule it. You can still be flexible, but at least having it on the calendar will give structure to your days and keep your on track towards your goals.

What Running Has Done for Me

Two years ago I went in for my yearly check-up and was told that I am pre-diabetic. The doctor also told me I had high blood-pressure and high cholesterol, neither of these were news to me; I had been told this since I was in high school.

I decided to take up running, if for no better reason than that I felt that it gave me the best workout in the least amount of time – despite the fact that for years I had said that I would never run, unless someone was chasing me or I needed to catch a bus.

Over the past 2 years I have slowly but surely built up my running distance and times. I don’t know at what point you get to call yourself a “runner”; whenever I start to feel that I’m making progress, I meet people who are light years ahead of me. However, I recently bought a pair of actual running shorts… so there’s that.

Currently I run about 15-20 miles per week. This month will be my first month running over 70 miles in a month. My 10k time is now down to 52:40 and my goal is to run a half-marathon next year.

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I just got a new pair of running shoes this week. While I was shopping for them, the workers in the shop were talking about a 50k race they ran on Saturday, and then a friend of mine told me that he is running a 100k race next year…
I’m probably never going to make it to that level (nor do I desire to), but here are some things that running has done for me:

  1. Increased my endurance in other areas of life

    One of the hardest parts about running is that I get bored. It’s monotonous. I’ve had a few running partners, but one moved away and the other got injured and quit running. Thanks to a great pair of wireless headphones my wife got me for my birthday, I am able to listen to podcasts and audiobooks while I run.
    I have noticed though, that since I started running more, I have been able to more easily focus on tasks for a longer period of time, such as reading books, or sitting in one place to write. In the past I always felt that I had a hard time sitting still and focusing on one task for long periods of time. I know that getting lots of cardio exercise increases blood-flow to the brain, so maybe that’s the cause of the difference I feel – or maybe it is that endurance exercise has increased my endurance in other areas as well.

  2. Improved my health

    I’ve been back to the doctor, and although I’m still in the pre-diabetic range, my blood pressure and cholesterol levels are at the best levels they’ve ever been in my life. My weight is at the lowest it’s been since before I got married 12 years ago. My resting heart rate has gone from an average of 60-65 bpm to now being 38-43 bpm! I also sleep better at night.

  3. Reduced my stress level

    Along with my lower blood pressure, cholesterol levels and resting heart rate, I’ve noticed a significant decrease in my stress level. It’s not that I’m doing less, it’s that I’m not as stressed out by things in the same way I was before.

Jonathan Edwards and others have pointed out the correlation between physical health and spiritual and mental health. The advice Jonathan Edwards gave to those struggling with “melancholy” (what we might call depression) was that they begin with making sure they are eating a healthy diet, getting sufficient rest and physical exercise along with spiritual disciplines such as prayer, reading of Scripture and participation in a local church.

Running has been good to me. I recommend it.

 

Running on Water

I have recently started running regularly along the St Vrain River from Roger’s Grove to Golden Ponds. The other day my running partner and I discovered this row of rocks that allows you to cross over the middle of one of the lakes.
Longmont, thanks for being awesome.
Here are the pictures we took of it today. The first one was taken by my Samsung Galaxy and the other was taken by my friend’s iPhone. Not trying to be a hater – just sayin’… 🙂