We all get caught up in the New Year sentimentality on January 1st; the ability to have a fresh start and wipe the slate clean. Which translates into starting over in some areas of our lives. So we make our New Year’s Resolutions, hoping that this year our lives will change for the better. We vow to lose weight, stop eating junk food, stop smoking, put all we can in our retirement accounts, or finally pay off that credit card once and for all.
We are gung-ho for the first few weeks and then the excitement wears off and we go right back into our old ways. The first week of January has a huge increase in gym membership and attendance. By February, the regulars have their gym back. What happened to our plans? Why don’t we follow through? We start with great enthusiasm but then when we realize it will actually take genuine effort, we lose interest.
This is the “have it now” era. We have fast food chains, instant oatmeal, the internet in our pocket, pills that promise to burn fat while we sleep, microwave meals, instant hot water dispensers, and many more have it now conveniences. It upsets us if someone doesn’t drop whatever they are doing to answer our text or e-mail immediately. The notion of working for something and gaining the reward after we put in the effort has been lost. Our society has turned into an “I want it now society.”
So we start on our weight loss resolution. By the second week we realize that we haven’t achieved our goal of losing 30 pounds, so we just give up. We have lost sight of what Stephen R. Covey called the “Law of the Farm,” in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. You cannot take the entire spring and summer off and expect to do the planting and the harvest in the fall. That won’t work on the farm and it won’t work in your life either. You will reap what you sew, but you must put the work in along the way, and the harvest will come later.
So here we are in the middle of the year. July 4th is coming up reminding us that we are half way through our “New Year”. How have you faired on your New Year’s Resolutions? Do you even remember what they were?
Here is a chance to get back on track. The year is only half over. You still have the opportunity to succeed at your original goals. We have a motivating holiday at the beginning of the year, January 1st, but we also have a holiday in the middle of the year, July 4th, that can be used to reboot the system. Although we tend to get caught up with the BBQ and the fireworks, we forget it also marks the halfway point of our Year.
This year at your 4th of July celebration, make a new set of resolutions or reaffirm the resolutions you made six months ago. Treat it like your second chance for a new beginning. What would you like to do? Put $500 a month into your emergency fund? Pay off your car? Lose 20 pounds by Christmas? Quit smoking? Eat right? Spend an average of 1 hour a day with the kids? Vacation more? Come home for dinner every night? Paint the house? Clean the garage? Write a book? Finish that on line course I’ve been putting off?
OK, that last one was for me. I realized I started this project last year, but dropped the ball, no pun intended, on completing it. It’s an online course that will help a large segment of doctors. But no one will benefit from my knowledge on this subject until I get the job done. So I have resolved that now is the time to start afresh and complete what I’ve started. It was one of my New Year’s Resolutions to finish the course. So why isn’t it done? It seems I can always find something that is more urgent or that I’d rather do than tackle this time consuming project.
Let’s start the second half of the year by making some Mid-Year Resolutions. But this time, let’s follow through with our dreams. I’m working on my project again. The momentum has restarted. It is always helpful to have a buddy in your corner cheering you on or assisting in your dream. For me, my wife is helping to push me forward and keep the momentum going by asking me how it is going, encouraging me to set aside the time, helping me with segments of it, and cheering me on. (Or is it nagging? Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference.) I will get the project done this time. I am determined to see it through and get all those doctors the help they need. I’m telling you all this to help hold me accountable. Sometimes, having an accountability buddy is all the push we need.
Let’s hear from some of you. What Mid-Year resolution are you going to make? What will you do to assure yourself you will carry it through to the end? Many resolutions and goals are too big to stand alone and need to be broken down into smaller steps. Make a plan, draw a road map to your goal. Write out the smaller steps required to reach the end. If it is to lose 20 pounds, maybe you can rephrase it to lose one pound a week for 20 weeks. One pound seems a lot more doable than 20 pounds. If you turn a big goal into many little bites, you can even eat an elephant.
I think the concept of biting off more than you can chew is what makes us discouraged and we stop trying. We sometimes set goals so big, we can’t envision how to do it. I can’t finish my entire video project today, but I can write the script for one video today. If I keep doing that, one video every day, then I have 30 videos finished by the end of the month. Soon the entire course is finished.
If your resolution is to get out of debt, then start by reading my book, The Doctors Guide to Eliminating Debt. It will help you reframe your goal into smaller steps and you too will become debt free in the end. All of your goals are within reach, if you will just reach for them.
Let’s all start following the law of the farm. Plant the crop, water it daily, pull the weeds when they sprout, and reap a bountiful harvest in the fall. It won’t be instant, and it will take some effort, but it will be worth it in the end. It is just one Mid-Year resolution away. Make that decision today and announce it to your friends at your 4th of July BBQ. It could change your life.