The new year is an exciting time of new commitments, fresh vision, and an unexplainable sense of hope that is often lost somewhere in the 11 months following until January rolls around again. It’s easy to align in two camps regarding the tradition of New Year’s Resolutions – love or hate. I personally, love the practice of healthy goal setting in any season and see the new year, both calendar and school, as a natural time for it. However, I’ve been challenged to see the month of February as the most important month for my resolutions and goals set for the new year, and you ought too as well.
The common theory on habit formation is derived from a book by Dr. Maxwell Maltz where Maltz concluded a 21-day period of discipline and commitment would establish a habit. This opinion was accepted as truth and even supported by THE Tony Robbins, so it had to be true, right? Wrong. Maltz, a plastic surgeon made an assumption based on observation and little study. A later study was done by Phillippa Lally, an actual psychologist, discovered that a MINIMUM time period of 66 days was needed to truly establish a habit. We wonder why only 8% of New Year’s Resolutions are kept when people assume putting in a third of the work will get them there.
This concept is transferable to your ministry in the amount of discipline and diligence needed to establish a true habit or accomplish a healthy goal. It’s one thing to make goals and cast vision in January, but it’s another to buckle down and charge toward them in January and clear through February. A 21-day commitment may not do you or your vision justice. February is the month to champion the discomfort and embrace the challenge of true commitment to new habits and goals.
This year as you chase after a new vision or the same vision in a fresh and rejuvenated way consider these 4 concepts on healthy resolutions from Ray Williams of Psychology Today.
1) Focus on one goal at a time
Proverbs 4:25-27 emphasizes the discipline of focusing on what lies ahead of us. In ministry it’s easy to get lost in the mystique of changing everything that needs to be fixed in a panic. Take a breath, slow down, and establish health in every situation before moving onto the next one. It is ok for you to establish health in your leadership team before building your ministry. It is ok for you to slow down the pace and amount of programs in order to zoom in on a specific goal or vision God has given you.
2) Set realistic, specific goals
Matthew 16:10 tells us how God will bless those who are faithful with little. Growing the impact of your ministry for the Kingdom is not a specific goal. A specific and attainable goal would be recruiting 2 new leaders to disciple 4 students each before the school year ends.
3) Take small steps and focus on the present
Matthew 6:34 reminds us to focus on what we can do today and to let tomorrow worry about itself. Don’t be overwhelmed by a big goal with long-term work involved. Focus on today. What can you do right now, today, to get you closer to your goal?
4) Focus your thinking
Philippians 4:6-9 charges us to focus our thoughts in order to embrace the peace of our Father. Don’t let negativity, defeat, or fear dictate your behavior. Avoid focusing on the insecurities or comparisons thrown at you. God is working your ministry for a specific role in His Kingdom. Own it and stay focused on being the absolute best version of yourself.
5) Set goals continually
Joshua was a phenomenal leader and constantly establish a new conquest for his people as the Lord revealed them to him. Lead your life with an openness to revelation from God for vision and goals to accomplish in ministry but also for your personal life. Don’t live in compliance with the past, but with continuous fervor for the future God has for you.
Don’t be a victim of the 92% of resolution setters not accomplishing their goals in 2018. Strap in for a wild ride of discipline and daily striving to get one step closer to the goals and vision God has placed on your heart. Focus on the vision God has given you and don’t be overwhelmed by the size – big or small. Attach tangible goals to the vision and trust God to carry you through every step. Commit daily to taking steps toward your goals and be faithful to take those steps. Most importantly, in all things start with prayer and a remembrance of why we do the work we do. It’s not about us or being a great youth worker, it’s about declaring the glory of our God and connecting students to the heart of our loving Father. You can do it. February is your month.