Friday, February 19, 2016

Resolutions: Challenges

016 Resolutions:  Challenges

Thus far we have examined “Choices” and “Changes”, and now we will explore the “Challenges” associated with keeping our resolutions. Since the beginning of time, people have faced many challenges, including the one for basic survival and the aftermath of major events, traumatic experiences, and personal tragedies. These challenges have been the cause of great anxiety and have led many to get sidetracked (a common challenge) from their goals and plans. And when we have been derailed by our circumstances, it takes time to recover our equilibrium. Therefore, we need to be prepared for dealing with the challenges that confront us.

 But we are not alone: the Bible is filled with accounts of individuals who got distracted by the challenges in front of them.  For instance, the story of Abraham and Sarah, giving God a ‘helping hand’ (i.e., Abraham had a son with Sarah’s maid) when they believed He was taking too long to give them their promised son.
Eventually, Abraham and Sarah got back on track and had their son, Isaac [See Genesis, chapters 16, 17, and 21]. And how different would the Apostle Peter’s ministry have been if he had ignored the vision from God when he got off course with his understanding of what was ‘clean’ or ‘not clean’ to eat,? Instead, he listened, got back on track, and ministered powerfully [See Acts 10]. The important truths of these, and other Biblical accounts, are that they got refocused, returned to their goals and plans that God had for them. Thus, getting sidetracked is a common challenge.

Furthermore, no matter what goal(s) we have chosen, the first step is to make certain that we are educated with current information related to our goals. Some additional stumbling blocks include: 1) vague resolutions. The biggest challenge is how to move from our list resolutions to concrete plans of action. For example, “I want to lose weight (a general statement).” How much weight? What steps will you take to lose weight? We need to be specific, and this applies to all our chosen goals; 2) Being unrealistic. (e.g., “I want to get in shape.”  We don’t go from living sedentary lives to running marathons in a few weeks.); 3) Not writing down your goals, which reduces the success rate; 4) Having too many goals can result in feeling overwhelmed and not accomplishing any of them; 5) Not creating a plan that breaks goals down into manageable steps (i.e., where will we begin? What will we do next?); 6) Not persevering (i.e., giving up too soon); 7) Being rigid versus needing to be flexible, because our goals and plans don’t always turn out the way we expect.

 There are other challenges that may confront us including: getting off-track (a common obstacle mentioned earlier); internal difficulties (e.g., self-doubt, procrastination, or the lack of perseverance); external difficulties (e.g., illness or the death of a loved one, demands on our time, and our relationships with others); or may discover that our goals do not reflect our choices and values (e.g., our choices are to get the approval of others). When faced with these conflicts, we need a plan to get back on track after we’ve been derailed. There are strategies that can help us, such as remembering that we are not alone in this dilemma (i.e., others share our experience). The frequent response to getting off-track is to berate ourselves, and then state that, “I’ll start again on Monday.” Don’t wait until next Monday! Get back on track now—make a healthier choice with the very next opportunity. Also, when we slip up, we need to be kind to ourselves. Finally, celebrate your small successes along the way to achieving your goal.

 See you next week for the next section, “2016 Resolutions: Compensations”.

Elizabeth Hogan Hayduk
Former Salvation Army Officer (pastor)

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