Jenny had the best of intentions. As she fought to keep her eyes open while waiting for the ball to drop in Times Square, she made a list of promises to herself. No more snacking after the kids went to bed. Replace that nightly glass of chardonnay with a cup of chamomile tea. Walk for at least a half-hour every day. Lose fifteen pounds. And above all, spend less time scrolling through her phone.
Just a week later, Jenny realizes she’s spent the last hour scrolling through Instagram and there are cookie crumbs and an empty wine glass on the end table. She’s exhausted and she feels like a failure – again. This year was going to be her fresh start and she’s already let herself down. She wonders what the point is as she pours herself another half-glass of wine. Just one more night, she promises.
Do you ever feel like Jenny does? It’s fairly common. We use important dates like New Year’s as opportunities for fresh starts. Then, when we fail to achieve the goals we set for ourselves, we decide that it’s hopeless and wait for the next important date to try again. Here’s the thing: every new day can be a fresh start if we choose to look at it that way. Even if we weren’t quite the person we wanted to be today, God always gives us another chance tomorrow.
The key is to stop expecting to make major changes quickly. Instead, we need to promise ourselves we’ll be a little better today, a little better tomorrow, and so on. If you want to make fresh starts stick, it is time to start thinking about every day as opportunity to become closer to who you want to be. Know what else? The person you want to be is constantly changing. You may not notice those changes day to day, but what’s important to you will change over time.
So instead of viewing huge goals as fresh starts, think about the small changes you can make every day. When you wake up in the morning, give yourself just a couple goals for that day. If you achieve them, pat yourself on the back and do the same tomorrow. If you fall short, accept that you’re not perfect and start again tomorrow. Forward is forward, no matter how big or small the step is.
When you think of those small changes, try to be specific. For example, most people dream of losing weight, but they don’t think of it in terms of small changes. They tell themselves they’re going to lose 15 pounds by the end of the month, and when it doesn’t happen, they feel like Jenny. If they vowed instead to not have any between-meal snacks today and skip lunch out in favor of a salad, they might succeed. And if they repeat those small steps day after day, within weeks, they’ll notice that pair of jeans isn’t quite as tight.
Another way to make those fresh starts stick is to share your goals with someone who cares about you and can help you hold yourself accountable, like a good friend or a trusted member of your small group. And don’t forget to reach out to God for support. Praying regularly about your goals keeps you focused on them and opens your mind to ways you can reach them.
If all that sounds overwhelming and impossible, and you know there is more to why fresh starts seem to come all too often, maybe it’s time for some professional guidance from a member of the Care to Change team. We can help you more clearly define your goals and identify the obstacles that are getting in the way. Why not set a time to talk with us? In the meantime, we invite you to listen to our latest podcast on how to make fresh starts stick.