I didn’t know I could “opt out” of making new year’s resolutions until I was an adult. Every year, sometime between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, I’d curl up in my bed with a notebook and muddle through a list of resolutions for the coming year.
Sometimes they represented goals, sometimes they were just daydreams floating through my head. Most of the time I didn’t see that list again unless I stumbled upon it while searching for some other item under the bed, or in the jumbled mess of a desk drawer.
By the time I was married and had children of my own I was frustrated with the process. The same faithful standbys popped up on my list again and again: lose weight, get in shape, pray every day, quit fill-in-the-blank (what I was quitting varied, from smoking to drinking to eating too much sugar), get out of debt, save money, get organized, spend more quality time with family, etc. At one point I considered just making copies with a couple blank lines at the bottom for those little extras like “clean closet” I threw in as an afterthought.
Then, five years ago I read Correct Change Required, by Billy Epperhart, (You can buy a copy here: Half.com ) and the way I approached my New Year’s Resolutions changed.
Epperhart breaks down the elements of positive, lasting change and discusses the root of resistance to accomplishing our goals. What is that root? Epperhart calls it “hindering beliefs.”
We may write “lose weight” or “get out of debt” on our list of resolutions with the rest of America (see here), but the sad truth is most of us will never “Just Do It!” because we secretly harbor a belief that tells us over and over, “it’s impossible.”
Somewhere around February or March we start making excuses for ourselves and justifying the status quo. “My mom is overweight, so this is probably genetic. It’s hopeless, I’ll never lose weight.” Or, “Unless I win the lottery, there’s no way I’ll ever get out of debt. It’s impossible.”
Do you see the problem? It’s the adult version of Dumbo the flying elephant and his magic feather. If you don’t believe you can accomplish your goal, then you’re defeated before you ever begin. For example, I don’t believe I can do a pull-up (or a chin-up), and I will hang helplessly from the pull-up bar until someone comes up behind me to give me a boost. The amazing thing is that the person who helps me applies no pressure to lift my weight. All it takes is a mere touch and suddenly I can do a pull-up/chin-up! It’s not a physical problem, it’s a mental one. If my mental belief is strong enough to override my muscles, how many other things is my mind preventing me from doing?
Pick up your list of dreams and desires. One by one, take each item and ask yourself,
“Do I believe – REALLY believe in my heart – that I can accomplish this?” If your honest answer is not “yes,” you’ve got some preliminary work to do. Start with the following questions:
1. What DO I believe about this?
- Locate your faith. What you believe in your heart and profess with your mouth identifies what you believe, and what you believe about yourself, and about the world around you, determines the course of your life.
2. WHY do I believe that?
- The purpose of this question is to determine if your argument with yourself is legitimate and valid. If you’re basing your belief on something someone said to you in the eighth grade, it’s time to let that go and find the truth!
3. HOW can I change that hindering belief?
- I’ll write more about this in a later post, but for now, take a look at your goal through an objective lens. Unless you’ve got “win a jackpot at the roulette table in Vegas” on your list, I’d guess the accomplishment of your goals, like mine, will involve basic hard work, discipline, self-control, and learning some new information to replace years of negative programming.
Remember, the Bible says nothing is impossible to those who believe. Believe what? Believe in possibilities, for starters!