Every year millions of people make promises to themselves at the start of the New Year, these promises are affectionately referred to as New Year’s Resolutions. Fueled by the excitement of something new, another year seeming mysterious and full of uncertainty, people promise to do everything from the simple to the extraordinary. Some forget their resolutions as they recover from hangovers on New Year’s Day but others try and stick with them, deciding that this year is the year! Some make it a few days, others a few months but eventually most slip up and instead of persevering they revert back to old habits.
For many years, I made resolutions just like everyone else. I fell into the trap of promising myself things that I never followed through on. (It’s sad when you break a promise to yourself because you only have yourself to be angry at.) A few years ago, I decided to stop making New Year’s resolutions. Sure, there are people who are successful with keeping their resolutions, but I challenge that they could have made those changes anytime throughout the year and still have been successful.
That’s the approach that I’ve adopted in my own life. I try and make changes in the moment, adapting and growing throughout the year when I see the issues manifest. I find that it’s sometimes easier when the issue is first staring you right in the face. Many times we end up looking away, fear or laziness allowing the issue to linger around. It then becomes familiar, comfortable and eventually a part of our lifestyle. It becomes easy to say that you’ll exercise tomorrow, or that you’ll work on that book next week. We become complacent as we push off what we may truly believe in our hearts to be important, but just not important enough to work on today.
Willpower is at the core of many decisions we make, we choose to do or not to do. Google defines willpower as "control deliberately exerted to do something or to restrain one's own impulses." I’ve heard people joke about not having willpower, the sight of certain foods causing them to lose all self-control. It may seem funny in the moment, but a lack of willpower can be a very dangerous thing. In truth, willpower defines who we are. If we submit to our impulses in one area of our lives, what’s to stop us from doing so when the outcome is far worse than an upset stomach?
Willpower needs to be exercised, just like any muscle in our body. My wife and I go through these little willpower challenges throughout the year, simple things like cutting certain foods out of our diet for several weeks at a time. We also believe in fasting as a way to focus our minds and bodies, a type of purification process that affects us spiritually as well. These little challenges help us grow, both individually and as a couple and I highly recommend you give them a try.
My hope for all of us in this New Year, is that we exercise our willpower. We can make the changes in our lives that we need to as long as we keep at it.
Happy New Year!