“3. Resolved, If ever I shall fall and grow dull, so as to neglect to keep any part of these Resolutions, to repent of all I can remember, when I come to myself again.”
– Jonathan Edwards, in his own Resolutions, begun in his teenage years.
One of the reasons the experts give for the third Monday in January being the gloomiest day of the year (I assume in the Northern Hemisphere) is “failed resolutions.”
OOOGAH-OOOGAH-OOOGAH! MISNOMER ALARM!! How can a resolution for a whole year be failed by the third week? The very word resolution means determination, even when one has fallen short, or even completely messed up. Resolution gets back up, dusts itself off, and picks up where it left off…
OR makes wise modifications and starts all over again.
The modifications may be the real life savers.
How would you like (even though we’ve already passed mid-January) still to get to the end of 2012 with five or six new well-established habits? Without stress. (A habit here is a small routine you carry out with steadfastness.)
This is possible. Without angst. Without strain.
If. You. Keep it. Simple.
New habit building is.
If we let it be.
But we don’t.
We make it complicated.
Because simple looks unimpressive. Boring. Complicated looks heroic.
Keep it simple.
You don’t think six or seven. You think. Just. One.
You don’t think whole big year. You think “till the end of February.” Or something like that.
You realize that one month of steady repetition will make a routine. And if you just continue, steady, for another month of that routine, you’re getting into a real habit.
If I get a new routine-becoming-habit fairly well established by March 1, say, or April 1, then I can begin working on another, as I almost automatically continue the first. My second habit can be making its own rut by June, a third by August, a fourth by October… Get it? Don’t sweat it!
And so far this same method has been working in the spiritual area over the past two years, and this month, too, as I continue and expand my aspirations.
Next post, I’ll share with you how this came about, how it works specifically, in detail, in either housekeeping or spiritual (or any other) discipline.
I hope you’ll stop back then, and in the meantime, I hope you’re showing yourself some mercy and grace:
First, it’s grace to consider what you have achieved. Each single time you did the good thing you wanted, you made a step in the right direction. And you know what every journey begins with.
Second, you might show yourself mercy and (re)consider your aspirations. Are they a little too over-the-top? Can you break them down into smaller sub-habits, baby steps more achievable, less stressing, and, like Jesus, keep your burden light?
Third, it helps immensely to realize the first thing Jonathan Edwards said in his Resolutions: “… I am unable to do any thing without God’s help, [so] I do humbly entreat Him, by His grace, to enable me to keep these Resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to His will, for Christ’s sake.”
(Now I must go attend to my messy kitchen!)