Wednesday, January 5, 2011

New Year's resolutions

“…behold, I will do something new now…” –Isaiah 43:18

Happy New Year! 2010 is over and 2011 has begun. I’ll have to admit, I’m still caught in a time warp- it still feels like the 80’s. But life moves on and the unmistakable feeling of newness begins with a new year. If you’re like our family, you went around the table and made resolutions for the New Year. Goal setting is such a good thing. Challenge your kids to use the new year as a time to start fresh, especially in their spiritual lives.

But like many goals with our kids, the challenge begins not with them, but with us. They are watching us like hawks to see if the goals we made are accomplished. They might have heard us say at dinner a few nights ago “we would get in shape for the new year.” They’re watching as we buy the new running shoes and start running. But they’re also watching when the shoes get dusty in the closet because they haven't been worn in a while.

Like it or not, what we do speaks louder than what we say. It’s important that we teach our kids the validity of commitment and discipline. Deep down, if they see it in us, then they’re more apt to practice it themselves.

My wife Jeanie is a gymnastics instructor at the local YMCA here in Branson. She commented the other day about the first day she returned to the Y after the New Year’s break last year. She said the parking lot was noticeably packed with cars and she couldn’t find a place to park. But a few weeks later, the parking lot was back to normal again. The truth is we all like to make goals but we tend to lack the discipline to do the hard work to achieve them.

List your 2011 goals on a sheet of paper. Teach your kids that setting goals is a good thing. Scripture often reminds us that having vision leads to success. Of course, our adult goals are different than kid goals, but help them set some fun goals for 2011. Remind them to set goals physically, socially, spiritually, and academically and to make those goals attainable. Remember the SMART acrostic for goal setting: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timeable.

Prayerfully find a good friend to hold you accountable to your goals. A good, solid, objective accountability partner is absolutely key to achieving goals. Like someone said, “it’s not what we expect but what we inspect.” We all need a good “inspector” in our lives. Too many times we choose poorly in this area. We need a friend who meets with us often and is willing to tell us what we don't want to hear. We need a true friend who cares more about us than the friendship. Remind your kids that the best friends help us be the best we can be without expecting anything in return.

Review your goals often. Be honest with yourself about how they are going. If things aren't progressing as well as you would like, you can revise your goals or choose a different strategy to achieve them. There will often be set-backs along the way, but losing one game doesn't mean the season is over. Instruct your kids in goal auditing. Help them learn how to re-group and re-load in their goals.

A new year is a great time to do an overhaul of our lives and re-group on direction and goal setting. Help your kids learn how to be goal setters. And be sure you’re “practicing what you preach” as you put on those running shoes.

By Eric Joseph Staples ©

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