My 1st Post of the Year

A week in… and finally my 1st post of the year.

And thus, I’ve accomplished my first new year’s resolution: Write at least 1 post a week.

Check. Awesome.

Now just 51 more weeks to go.

Indulge my self-indulgence for a moment, please. I’m going to push myself this year to develop constructive habits that deepen my character and skills. I’m stating this publicly with the precise purpose of being a pain in my own side. There is something annoyingly healthy about making a goal public, about declaring an intention out loud, about articulating a nagging thought, about throwing the measure-marker a bit farther than is comfortable…

It’s like putting your alarm on the other side of your room instead of next to your bed. It forces you to get up when you’d rather hit snooze.

Like many people, I put together a list of new year’s resolutions this week. But in the reflection, I put put some thought into how to actually make a good resolution. No use wasting effort on unachievable goals or guilt-inducing dreams. Birthed from this endeavor was the following 5-step guide to making a good New Year’s Resolution:

STEP 1: PROMPT

It’s time for a life gut-check. Take it. Spend time asking yourself questions that need answering. You are worth the effort. You were created to grow, created to overflow with life. What are you missing? What plans does God have for you that you haven’t pursued? This process should be both uncomfortable and comforting. Be deliberate. Be critical and also patient with yourself.

STEP 2: PRIORITIZE

Those things that you “wish” were true about yourself… throw them away. They aren’t helping you. They are keeping you from realizing who you are in God’s eyes. Instead, pursue those things that build up your health, your character, your relationships. I heard someone say recently: decide what is plastic and what is glass. You can drop the plastic, so don’t worry about it. The glass, however… take care of it.

STEP 3: ARTICULATE

Make the prioritized goals public. Accountability comes from stating a goal out loud.

STEP 4: SCAFFOLD

Set achievable markers that are just challenging enough to make you nervous. Put a time element (E.g. once a week, in the morning, by March 1, Etc.) and content measurement (E.g. lose 15 pounds, write 5 thank-you notes, read the book of John, Etc.) on your goal so that it is no longer a nebulous aim, but a clear finish line. There is no use in setting measurements that you can’t actually reach… and there is no use in setting markers that give you a false sense of progress. (For instance, I have a stupid habit that I’m going to break this year. On my “to do” lists, I sometimes tend to write down things that I’ve already done just so I can can cross them off and pretend to feel better. This way to “measure” my accomplishments is too-easy and too-self-placating.)

STEP 5: PRACTICE

Put your toe in to test the water… or just dive in. Either way, the only way to accomplish a New Year’s Resolution is to get at it. If at first you don’t succeed, update your scaffolding if necessary and try again.

– – – – – – – –

P.S. I don’t solicit comments often on this site, but I would be interested in hearing whether this was helpful to you in developing your own resolutions… or hearing some of your own advice on what has helped you meet your goals.
P.S.P.S. One of my new resolutions, based on this post, is to put my stupid cellphone alarm across the room so that I can’t hit snooze anymore. No more pretending that I’m actually going to get up when the alarm first blares… Ugh. Makes me nervous to do this… which probably means it is a good resolution.
Ken Castor

Ken Castor is a husband, dad, pastor, writer and teacher. He serves as a professor at Crown College, Minnesota, where he equips students to pursue Jesus-Centered Faith and Next Generation Ministry. For 20+ years he's focused on equipping the next generations in places like the U.S., Canada, and Northern Ireland. He's the author of Grow Down (Simply Youth Ministry, 2014), Make a Difference (Broadstreet, 2016), the Blue-Letters Editor of the Jesus-Centered Bible (Group, 2015) and numerous other articles and Bible Study guides. But, whenever possible, he gets down on the floor and builds Lego with his kids. Connect with him @kencastor.

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