It is fascinating to think about a new year because in actuality, we are only a few days away from the end of 2016. People make resolutions on January 1 to make major life changes, and that can be a very good thing. However, I think the reason that many of them fail to stick is because an arbitrary line drawn in the sand dependent only on a particular time is rarely a good way to make lasting change.
Consider how difficult it is for people to quit smoking cold turkey. Some people do it, and that is a great thing for their health and the health of people around them. However, most people do not follow through when they try to quit because it is hard. Just saying I want to quit smoking on one particular day doesn’t mean that I am prepared to actually make that major life change.
It takes something deeper than just saying that I want to do a particular good thing on a particular day. Somehow, it has to become intertwined with our lifestyle to make a complete change. For example, we need to perhaps avoid situations where we will be tempted. We need to literally throw out the cigarettes that we still have in our house so that we do not have them readily available. We need to do things that are specifically tied to changing our action rather than simply saying some words.
It takes an ideological change to improve our chances of making it stick. If you read this article from healthcommunities.com about quitting smoking, they fully acknowledge that many people actually go back to smoking because it is hard. However, they recommend some ways that can improve your percentage of success, and they include literally writing down the reasons that you want to quit. In other words, you need to have reasons for doing this, and you need to be clear on what those reasons are.
This applies in every area of life, and it also applies to the mission of this website. We can all say things and draw arbitrary lines in the sand. I can say that I am Christian for example. I can say that I want to make a positive change in the world.
I’m not just writing this to slam all the resolutions I assume you will make to try to make positive changes in your life this year. In fact, that is a great thing, and if the above smoking example applies to you, I hope you quit. If you want to get more exercise, I hope you follow through with it. However, don’t just say that you’re going to do something without finding out the reasons why you are doing it. When the difficult times come and you want to give up, you need to have something beyond an arbitrary date to fall back on. You need to have a worldview that explains why something is important to you and why it is worth sticking with.