Thursday, January 24, 2013

Of New Years' Resolutions and Baby Steps

I know right? Everyone's done with their New Year greetings and have already settled into the year 'proprolly'.
January ends in exactly 7 days from today and I'm like, what? The year only just started! But isn't it true what they say; "How time flies"? Even though it's rather cliche, you just can't fault it.

So, for those of us who made New Year Resolutions, how's that going for you?

I don't do new year resolutions. Well, I don't think of them as new year resolutions. The few times I tried, I failed at them miserably. In the process, I discovered the aspects of my "resoluteness" I wasn't getting quite right.

Whoever came up with this Lunar Calendar system in use today did us a great service. Sometimes, I wonder how life would be if we weren't able to track the days as they rolled into weeks and the weeks as they rolled into months and months into years. Time would just click by inexorably and life would barely have meaning! It's not as if the passage of time in itself is noteworthy but being able to track the beginning and end of a thing or event somehow gives us a sense of accomplishment. Let me not run off  with this train of thought, all I meant to say with all that narrative is that the start of a new year is like being presented a fresh, blank sheet of paper. It is an opportunity to re-write the script and tell  our life's story from a different perspective.

This fresh sheet is all too precious to carelessly drool across it superficial goals many people refer to as "New Years' Resolutions". At least that was the way it was for me. Without any form of stock-taking or any real plans, I would just decide within my heart; in the new year, I would stop doing so and so; I would start doing so and so; I would do more of so and so etcetera. The interesting thing is, before the end of the first month of the new year, I would have forgotten what half of my resolutions were and failed woefully at the other half I managed to remember!

I read a book once that changed my perspective. I find it weird that for a book that has done so much for me, I can neither remember the title nor the author! It was one of those books you read in passing....maybe picked up on the coffee table of a random office reception...not one that was purchased or received.

Anyways, this book spoke about setting goals- short term and long term goals. It also encouraged people to take real stock and measure achievements. Setting goals also included workable plans of how to achieve them. No, it's not some geeky, boring exercise but something rather practical and enjoyable too, once you get into it. And you know what the best part was, you get to have allowances for failure!

That's where the baby steps come in.

Did you know that in order to steer a ship you only need to adjust this one mechanical item called a rudder? Of course the steering system of a ship consists of much more than the rudder but all you want to do is to adjust the angle of the rudder which causes the water beneath the ship to change direction and ultimately get the ship to change direction. Steering a ship is not the same as steering a car so you don't get to turn your steering wheel left as you would a car to get it to go left at the exact moment you need to turn left.
 In a ship, you make little adjustments to the angle of the rudder over a period of time to get the ship to finally turn in the direction you want. Those little adjustments MUST be made at the right time otherwise, it might be too late to get out of the way of an obstacle which may sink the ship.

My emphasis again, with all that 'lecture' on ship steering is that if we want to make a change in our lives, we will need to start with baby steps, making little, calculated changes as we go along; all the while having our target goal in mind.

So now you understand why I'm not a fan of New Years' Resolutions as the term is generally used. Goal setting should be an on-going process in our lives. And we should be at liberty to change those goals, update, upgrade and tweak them as we see fit. Plus add new goals to our list as time goes on. Oh, did I mention that these goals HAVE to be written in black and white? Mhm, they do! Goals should be flexible enough to absorb our slip-ups which will happen from time to time. That's what I meant by including allowances for failure. Most people create goals that are so rigid that a single slip-up could cause the goal to be abandoned entirely.

With the big picture in mind, you'll understand that failure is part of growing up and getting better. So what do you do? You pick yourself up and forge ahead!

Finally, regardless of how many goals and plans we set, without the Lord's help, there's a very slim to zero chance of success.

Trust in the  Lord  with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. (Proverbs 3:5, 6 KJV)

I wish us all a fulfilling 2013!