When I was a school teacher, I taught one year in a school where the principal was very fond of Zig Ziglar and sent the teachers to his workshops so that we could learn the catchy songs to sing along with our classes. Zig Ziglar was a motivational speaker and featured a woman named Mamie McDowell who was also motivational but very humorous and kept us entertained at the workshop. Zig's motivational material had catchy sayings that were easy to memorize. One of them was that people who had troubles needed "a check-up from the neck up" which means that they need to think about their troubles and see what the source of them would be and try to find a cure for them. There were songs we would sing that also promoted positive thinking. One such song was called, "See You at the Top". I can remember only a few lines of it but it began, "If you want to be a winner, let me tell you how you can, turn your dreams into action, plan your work and work your plan...." The words made sense but translating the ideas into action took more than just singing the catchy refrains.
Taking stock of where one is in life and making a plan for the future is part of what making New Year's Resolutions is all about. Thinking about one's health or one's exercise routine or one's habits and then making a plan to change in one area or another is a good idea anytime in life but it seems that New Year's Day provides us with the motivation to "begin again" in our lives and health.
The number one New Year's Resolution that many of us make each year is "to lose weight" or "to exercise more." I have made that one many times in my life. Each year when I make that particular resolution and go to the gym on the Monday after New Year's Day, the gym parking lot is so full that I can hardly find a parking place. In fact, one year, I could not find a parking place so I just went home. I figured if the parking lot was that full, then finding an exercise machine to try to "begin again" on would be almost impossible. If you wait a few weeks before going back to the gym, though, you will find plenty of places to park and lots of machines to use. That is all the time it takes for many people to forget the resolutions they made. Our memories are very short, especially when it comes to putting our goals into action.
Psychologists have said that in order for a resolution to work, it must be reasonable and simple to follow. If I need to lose 25 pounds, I need to begin by saying I need to lose 5 pounds perhaps and work toward that goal. Losing 25 pounds seems like a huge task but losing 5 pounds seems much more reasonable. Taking the steps to lose that weight involves having a healthy diet and getting more exercise than I normally do. Building that exercise into my daily routine will guarantee more success than just doing it when I feel like doing it. Eating healthy is something we all should do all the time but we tend to fall off of our best intentions easily. We have to continue to work toward the goals if we really want to achieve them.
Being a pastor, I hope some people in my congregation will make a resolution to attend church more often during 2015. Being present in church with others gives us the strength to achieve the goals we make in life because we gain spiritual and emotional strength by being with others who have similar goals in life and who want to live a healthy, positive life. I hope that our lives will be ordered to include spiritual as well as healthy personal goals for the new year. As we strive for greater things in life, we will feel the presence of God in our lives to encourage us on to greater things.