by Dave Coryell
Surviving Quitter’s Week: 3 ways to make resolutions stick (even if they are already broken)
Debate exists regarding how long the average person carries out a New Year’s resolution. Most reports seem to have about 80% giving up on their aspirations by January 12th (World Quitter’s Day) with additional reports saying that goals related to fitness are normally dropped by January 17th. According to USA Today Psychologist Professor John Norcross from Scranton University says that 40% are successful at the six month mark with fitness goals. So some people are successful at keeping those resolutions!
It is good to know that new standards can be set and maintained. However, the world’s masses seem to have a difficult time making adjustments lasting more than a few weeks.
Several years ago I stumbled across the book “Change or Die” by Alan Deutschman. The book presents three steps that helped classic no-change stereotypes from prison inmates to unionized workers. These steps can be helpful for us as we try to establish new faith growth patterns or even goals for mental, physical, emotional or relational living.
Step 1- Relate. In order to have a new way of living, new relationships are necessary. First and foremost, a relationship with Jesus Christ begins life transformation in a person. Along with this begins the process of seeing Christ lived out through other people. If you are reading this and do not have a relationship with Jesus Christ, please reach out to us and we can guide you through understanding what this means. Others, if you want to grow in an area of weakness, establish a relationship with someone who is either stronger in this area than you or can lovingly hold you accountable. For instance, at one point I wanted to exercise more regularly. I tried accomplishing this on my own and made little progress. Then I talked with a friend, Tom, and we decided to exercise together. This started a deeper friendship while also helping us both keep a regular exercise schedule. Start a relationship that can help you change. Key word: RELATE!
Step 2- Repeat. Find the changes you want to make and repeat them over and over again. You want to discipline yourself to floss, do it every day! Trying to set a new time to roll out of bed, set your time and follow through no matter how challenging. Want to read your Bible every day, talk with that accountability person from Step 1 (Relate), set a time, choose a plan, then do it every day. Repeat the practice and follow through. Here is the challenge. You may have heard it takes 21 days to make a habit. 21 days beyond that will make it an unbreakable habit. Unfortunately, reputable research does not back up this myth. As you know, God has wired people differently. According to Oliver Burkeman, writer for The Guardian, the University College London psychologist, Phillippa Lally, studied habit forming. “On average, her subjects, who were trying to learn new habits such as eating fruit daily or going jogging, took a depressing 66 days before reporting that the behavior had become unchangingly automatic. Individuals ranged widely – some took 18 days, others 245 – and some habits, unsurprisingly, were harder than others to make stick.” Bottom line, forming habits takes discipline and a commitment to repeat a practice over and over. Fortunately, also from Lally’s study, you can miss an occasional day along the way and still stay on track. Key word: REPEAT!
Step 3- Reframe. The first two steps you probably can grasp pretty easily. Have relationships that will support, encourage and at times admonish your desire to repeat a new life practice. Say for instance a furniture maker builds a wooden chair and then puts a beautiful stain on it. The chair is then placed outside. The chair itself represents change relationships. The stain represents the repeated steps taken daily. Unfortunately, this chair will break down from the elements- sun, rain, cold, heat. Before long the chair will crack and splinter. Step three is Reframe. Reframing with this analogy is like painting a protective coat over the top of the chair’s stained surface. Reframing takes a new look at how one lives. For instance, I can stop eating potato chips because I do not want to gain weight. This may last for a while until I eat some chips, then eat them the next day, and then begin having them all the time. Reframing the situation asks why I’m not eating potato chips and goes deeper than weight loss. I begin to reframe my choices based on healthy living instead of simply trying to lose a few pounds. Suddenly I begin to consider what I am gaining through my choices instead of lamenting what I have lost. My choice equals health GAINED verses potato chips LOST. Key Word: REFRAME.
Relate, Repeat, Reframe- wisdom for us as we try to change. May God grip your heart and help you make changes that will honor Him with your life in 2019!