Often at this time of the year we look at what has been – the year that is ending – and make plans for the year that is about to dawn upon us fresh and clean as the calendar pages turn and we face January and the start of a new year. Taking time to do this – taking a personal inventory – can be the start of something new if we don’t fall into a very common error.
At this time of the year many people make personal new year resolutions. These are decisions, based on a look back, that they hope will change things for them in the year to come. You know, such as, “Next year I am going to exercise every day.” As someone who goes to the gym almost daily I find this time of year rather humorous. For the week after Christmas and the first two weeks into the new year we end up with a 400%+ increase in people exercising. Many of them have taken out new memberships in the gym as part of their new year resolutions. However, by the 15th of January our numbers are back to the regular levels with few of the new people continuing on with their resolution into week three of the new year.
Here is the problem – new year resolutions are based on what people wish would happen not what they want to happen. It is based on the outside and not the inside. So, on a whim, they make a change or two but are not committed to really seeing it through with all that this might mean. So, as soon as it becomes an effort, crosses the line from fun to discipline, or does not give them their expected outcome or results – they call it quits. Estimates are that over 90% of new year resolutions end this way.
For real change to happen on the outside – actions, behavior, attitude, life-style – there must first be a definite change on the inside. All permanent change starts on the inside and works outwards into one’s daily priorities and life-style. So, unless there is a definite “change of heart” new year resolutions are simply wishful thinking resulting in nothing but disappointment and even frustration.
Now, think about this on a spiritual level – not just on the physical level where so many of us really focus and live. You make a new year’s resolution to read your Bible every day, pray more, witness to those who don’t know Jesus – whatever your spiritual “need” is at the moment. If you are simply adding a new discipline, a new event, a new demand upon your time, a slot filled on your daily calendar – then it is destined to fail. However, if your spirtual reolutions are based on an inner hunger, a thirst for more it is most likely, with a little effort and daily planning, to be successful long-term.
All permanent change starts on the inside – not the outside. It begins with a need being felt and recognized, a quality decision being made, timetables adjusted and organized, and a focus on the end results of the change so that you will not give up when the going gets rough or the novelty wears off.
What is it that you ar “feeling” needs to change in your life? What are you sensing in your heart or spirit? What is the Lord asking of you in 2011 that is going to require some changes, adjustments, and disciplines? As we take a deep breath after the Christmas rush and before we get into the new year celebrations – take a good look deep in your heart and soul and listen for the Lord. There are some felt needs on the spiritual realm that need dealing with. Handled properly they will also have a major impact upon your physical and outer world.
Failure to take the time or make the time will result in another year of “same old, same old” and you experiencing the same frustration 12 months from now that you feel as 2010 comes to an end. Only you can change this. Then you can truly have a “happy” new year.