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Some Thoughts on New Year's Resolutions by Aaron Hecht

As I'm sitting here writing this, the hours are ticking away before the last day of the Gregorian year 2023.

Candidly, I won't be sorry to see this year end. It's been rough for Israel and for me personally, for all kinds of reasons.

That having been said, I have no particular reason to think that 2024 will be any better. In fact, there are excellent reasons to think it'll just get worse for Israel and possibly also myself.

Although I don't have much direct control over what kind of national experience Israel will have in 2024, there might be some things I can do, or not do, that will provide me with a better personal experience in 2024 than I had in 2023.

Maybe you feel the same way. Maybe you're trying to think about ways you could try and help yourself have a better year in 2024 than you did in 2023.

Maybe, like me, you're thinking about making some of those notorious "New Year's Resolutions" that are so easy to make, but which hardly anyone ever sticks with very long. Or maybe not. Maybe you've tried to make such resolutions in the past, but couldn't stick with them, got discouraged, and don't want to build up any unrealistic expectations that'll just leave you feeling helpless and defeated when you once again fail to live up to them as you have so many times before.

If that's how you feel about it, you're not alone.

The whole "New Year's Resolution" thing has become a giant exercise in self-deprecating humor and fatalism, with its own genre of jokes, most of which are only funny in a sad way.

Speaking of exercise, one of the most common New Year's Resolutions is to "get in shape" in the coming year. People who exercise regularly have a sub-genre of jokes about this, largely centering around contempt and feelings of superiority over people who, for instance, buy a gym membership but only come for a week or two before quitting.

One such joke goes like this; "Thank goodness for those New Year's Resolution makers and breakers. If it wasn't for them, the gym wouldn't make enough money to stay in business and we'd have no place to work out."

Ha. Ha. Ha.

But seriously folks, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that making New Year's Resolutions is actually a very good idea if done properly.

Like any other plan or goal, the likelihood that you and I will follow through on our New Year's Resolutions increases if they are made with the following parameters in mind.

Are they specific?

Are they measurable?

Are they attainable?

Are they realistic?

Are they time bound?

The acronym SMART can help you remember these parameters.

The nebulous goal of "getting in shape" in the New Year is none of these things, and that's why it doesn't work. The same is true with "pay off debts" or "eat healthier" or "be more positive" or "be a better co-worker" etc.

These are all great goals to have, but they're also way too broad, and almost impossible to measure the progress you might be making towards them. If we don't see ourselves making progress, it's difficult to stay motivated and on track.

A better way of framing the otherwise laudable goal of "getting in shape" is to say "I want to lose 5 kilos. I also want to be able to do 100 push-ups and sit-ups and run 5 kilometers in under 30 minutes, all on the same day, by June 1st. By December 31st, I want to have lost another 5 kilos and still be able to do all those physical exercises all in one hour."

Once we've got this goal written down, we can start making a plan for how to accomplish it.

For instance, if I'm currently 102 kilos and I want to lose 5, I need to be weighing myself regularly, following a fairly strict diet that will give me a daily calorie deficit, and stick with a program of regular calisthenics, stretching, aerobic exercise and weight training. Such programs are easy to find online (my personal favorite is HASfit, which is owned and operated by Believers) and sometimes they cost a little bit of money. But consistently following through, one day at a time until we've done it for a substantial number of days, is the only way to achieve our goals. This is true in fitness and much else in life.

So, brothers and sisters, I would encourage you to make New Year's Resolutions, using the SMART parameters, and then make a plan which includes a schedule for the steps you must take to achieve the goals you've set for yourself. Of critical importance is to write your goals down, along with the plans to reach them, and take it out to read through it at least once a week at a set time (Friday afternoon is a good time for this.) Every week, when you take out your plans and go through them, take notes on what progress you made that week toward your goals. If you didn't make any progress, think about why, and make a fresh resolution to work hard in the coming week to make up the lost ground and take new ground as well.

I don't know about you my friend, but if I don't write things down and keep track of progress, I often find myself at the end of a year, or a month, or a week, or even a day, shaking my head in disgust at myself for having utterly failed, in the preceding time period, to get anything useful done.

If I could add a few personal requests here at the end, I'd ask for everyone to resolve/plan to pray more for Israel and the Body of Messiah specifically in the new year. The good news is that there are more and more Israelis, including Jews, Arabs, and others, who are coming into the Kingdom every day. The bad news is, a lot of other things are happening in Israel that are making life really difficult for everyone. If you're a regular reader of this blog you probably know quite a bit about all that, so I don't need to elaborate.

Another resolution/plan for the new year I'd encourage you to make is to read the Bible all the way through at least once this year. The One Year Bible app is the best way I know of to do that, and I urge you to make a serious effort to make this a priority in 2024. If you and I are not grounded in Scripture, the Enemy has all kinds of clever ways to deceive, distract, misdirect, and otherwise confuse us.

That's what I've got for you this week brothers and sisters. I hope it blessed someone. I'll see you next year.

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