Wednesday, December 31, 2014

How To Keep Your Resolutions

"And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing." -James 1:4

     It's the end of the year. The last day of 2014. This is the day we all decide on our resolutions and what we want to get done in the year 2015, and hope to keep it up. But how do we do that? How do we keep our resolutions from being discarded by the end of February? Whether it trying to study more, exercise regularly, eat better, read more, memorize a certain amount of verses, or simply try to eat more vegetables, there's an efficient and simple way to keep these resolutions.

Step 1: Decide
     What is it you want to accomplish? Do you want to study more, read more, be more encouraging? Do you want to eat healthier, exercise more, or do better in school? Find something you know you can stick to. Find something simple and specific so you don't get overwhelmed.

Step 2: Plan
     When you decide on what you want to do, make a plan that you can easily stick to. Want to read the entire Bible this year? Read 3 chapters a day (which takes about 7 and a half minutes. Yes, I timed it.). Want to memorize more verses? Find a reasonable goal and plan it out! Say you want to memorize 100 verses. That means 1 verse every three days or so. Not bad, right? If you want to study more, set a time every day where you can sit down with little to no distractions and study. If you're a morning person, maybe study after breakfast. If you're a night owl like myself, find some time during the evening when you can easily focus. I have a very hard time concentrating sometimes, so what I like to do is set a timer for the amount of time I want to work on something, and I don't stop until the timer goes off. After that I will check my email and texts and all that. If it's a longer task, I might do it in segments, but this way I can focus when I am oh so distracted. The whole purpose of making a plan, though, is so that you can make a habit about it. It takes about 9 weeks to make a habit, so as long as you can make it that far, it'll become easier and easier!

Step 3: Set Up Goals

     Have you ever read a really long book, and every time you look back to see how much you've read, it seems like you've gotten nowhere at all? The thing about making a goal that takes an entire year to complete is that it seemingly never ends. Set up little goals for yourself, or something to track your progress. You know all those cute ways you and find to decorate mason jars? Decorate one yourself, and every time you reach a goal, (say you memorize 5, 10, or 15 verses or read an entire book in the Bible) write it down on a strip of paper, fold it up, and put it in the jar. This way when you start to get discouraged, you can go to the jar and look at everything you've accomplished, and how far you've gotten. Or you can set up an award system. I used to have this planner that I made out of a graph paper notebook where I would have a list of things I needed to get done. Every time I checked something off of the list, I got a penny. Every penny that I got went into this jar, and when I had done about 300 things, I went out and got gelato (gelato is basically ice-cream but better, for those of you who have never heard of it). This gave me incentive to do more, and to stick to my plan. This helped me to make sure that my room was always clean, my bed always made, and my articles put out on time. Little things like this can really help motivate you to continue with your plan and prevent discouragement.

Step 4: Do It!

     You can't complete your resolution without starting it. Today I would like to encourage all of you to stick to your resolutions so you can grow in God's Word, and in wisdom, and in health. Whatever your resolution is, keep to it! By the end of the year, you'll be really glad you did it. And even if you miss a day or two, keep it up! It's easy to start something, but difficult to finish. Today, I challenge you to complete your New Year's resolution. Good luck!