Let’s not talk about New Year’s resolutions. Instead, let’s talk about setting new habits. Because if we really want to see positive change in our lives this year, helpful habits are what we need.
We can fail at a resolution and push it aside. ‘Oh well,’ we shrug, ‘it wasn’t that big a deal anyway. And hardly anyone keeps their New Year’s resolutions.’ (That’s correct—88 per cent of people fail at keeping them, apparently.) But a helpful habit can really turn our lives around. It’s more than some vague aspiration like ‘I’ll lose a bit of weight’ or ‘I’ll start saving’. A helpful habit is something we really want—and we know why we want it. It might help us, or others. But we see its worth and want to harness its power into the everyday routines of life.
When we want to develop a helpful new habit in our lives, it’s important to give ourselves grace to take time in doing that—adopting a long-term approach to something worthwhile. Some researchers say it takes at least 21 days to create a new habit, others say 66 days. It will be different for each of us and depend on what we’re trying to do. We’ll slip up sometimes, but we mustn’t beat ourselves up for that. Acknowledge any setback, but then get going again. To ingrain a new habit into our lives, we’ll need to set some goals. And if we’re wise, we’ll recruit friends and family to cheer us on.
It might be the habit of taking some regular exercise. It might be the habit of regular prayer and Bible reading. It might be the habit of praising our children every day, or not reaching for the bottle when something triggers the desire for a drink. But the key thing is that we consistently keep doing that somewhat awkward new thing that we want to make part of ourselves. Creating helpful habits isn’t just about willpower; it’s also about lots of practice.
Colossians 2:10 New Living Translation
‘You don’t need a telescope, a microscope, or a horoscope to realise the fullness of Christ, and the emptiness of the universe without him. When you come to him, that fullness comes together for you, too. His power extends over everything.’
‘A kua tino tangata ano koutou i roto i a ia, ko te nei ia o nga rangatiratanga, o nga mana katoa …’
Stay up-to-date with what’s happening in The Salvation Army and celebrate God’s work in and through people’s lives, subscribe today!
Annual subscription (including p&p) $75 within New Zealand.
To subscribe, please contact:
Phone: +64 4 382 0768
Email: Salvationist Resources
Freelancer and advertising enquiries, plus reader feedback can be directed to the Editor at:
War Cry Editor
Phone: +64 4 802 6269
Email: War Cry Editor