Five, four, three, two, one, Happy New Year! Strains of “Auld Lang Syne” came over the loud speakers as the ball at Time Square finally reached the bottom of its drop. At that precise moment, millions of people, taking their cue from Dick Clark, started to dance and make noise all over the land.
But they had jumped the gun, by four seconds.
It seems that the dropping of the ball at Time Square had become such a popular and lucrative event that the producers of the festivity had prevailed upon the owners and sponsors of “New Years Rockin Eve” to trade in the old ball with its antiquated cables, pulleys, and human hands for a new “state of the art, high tech, computerized ball.” And for the first time in decades, the ball was late.
What had worked faithfully for over twenty-five years was considered unacceptable and obsolete simply because it wasn’t new. “New and improved” isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be . . . just ask any of the folks on the Titanic. There’s something old and worn out about the assumption that new is better.
January represents a fresh start, a clean state, a crisp stack of pages on your calendar, a time to refinance your hopes and take a second pass at your priorities. It’s also an easy time to get tempted into trading in something that is proven for something that is better packaged. It’s can happen to anyone. I’ve succumbed to this pressure myself. But I’ve noticed a couple of things during my forty-five year pilgrimage, and I just want to mention a few of them as we kick off this new year.
When you make a resolution, be realistic, and stick with what has been proven to work. Let me mention a few topics that consistently get put on people’s New Year’s list of goals.
Finances: It’s tempting, when the stock market is hitting record highs, and even the most mediocre portfolios are hitting returns in the 20’s, 30’s, or 40’s%, to risk money you can’t afford to lose on investments that haven’t had time to develop a good reputation. If you’re going to invest in some un-proven, but highly potential investment, just put a small percentage of your investment money at risk. (A note from the editor: The percentages cited in the previous sentences were accurate in 1997 when this article was originally published, but the principle is still true and helpful today. Just replace the words “the stock market” with “crypto-currencies” and “bitcoin,” and “20, 30 or 40%” with “1000-2000%.”)
When it comes to money, few plans can beat the ones that have worked for centuries: 1. Live on a budget. 2. Live below your means. 3. Save money. If these three things are done consistently, year after year, you’ll be fine financially.
Fitness: The corridor between Thanksgiving and New Years is the valley of the shadow of fat grams. Most people carry a few extra pounds after the holidays that they had worked so hard to trim off in the months before the holidays. Solving the problem of the scales can cause people to make some serious and expensive mistakes.
This is the time of year when the exercise gurus buy more air-time for their infomercials. They know the average person is putting more pressure on gravity, and they know they feel frustrated about it. So they tout the latest piece of equipment designed to trim inches, tone muscle, and give you more endurance. For $500 you, too, can have one. What people forget is that for these machines to work you have to consistently use them. This requires commitment, inconvenience, and discomfort. If you’re already disciplined enough to do these three things, you’re a) probably not far from where you need to be weight wise, and, b) most likely don’t need expensive equipment to meet your goals. If you’re track record is that those three priorities are difficult for you to maintain, then you don’t need to put an addition on your house for a weight room or pay dues at some upscale health club where people sip carrot juice and eat tofu. Here’s all you have to do . . . 1. Don’t eat so much. 2. Don’t stay up so late. 3. Don’t sit around so much. Food, rest, and exercise.
When it comes to your eating habits keep in mind this simple truth: your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Feed Him accordingly. Do you think Christ would like a highly processed, junk-food diet when you factor in all the things He wants to do to you and through you. Since bad eating habits and the long term health problems block our ability to be used by God, fill your plate like you were eating for Jesus. Instead of making goals to lose 20 pounds, simply make a commitment to eat properly. When you add that goal to rest and exercise, you’ll be pleased with the results.
If you don’t get to bed at a decent hour, more than likely you won’t be able to jump start your body to do your “As Seen on TV Workout Video” in the morning. To consistently neglect our rest is sin. You don’t need a fancy piece of equipment to meet this goal, either. Just climb in bed at a decent hour. Watch God empower your schedule the next day.
We need to pray more. We need to have staff meetings with our spouse. If where you live is safe, take walks or jogs. You can either pray, or visit with your spouse about the details of over-seeing your family. By paying attention to these time tested truths, a year from now, you’ll be a lot closer to where you want to be with your weight than if you spent hundreds of dollars on equipment that still can’t do anything for you unless you do these three things anyway. So save your money and simply . . . eat sensibly, guard your rest, and get your heart beat up on a regular basis.
Faith: It would be great to read through the Bible this year. It would be heavenly to be able to Isolate a book or chapter in the Bible and spend an hour a day studying it through the commentaries and Greek tools. Some of you have been doing this for years. For you I simply have to say, “Praise the Lord, and keep it up!” The problem with most of you, however, is not studying the Bible too much, but not studying it at all. Instead of purchasing an $80 Bible with all kinds of study tools, why not simply develop the discipline of reading something from your old Bible everyday. It might be a few verses or an entire chapter. The key is, read something. Get an audio Bible to listen to while you drive, exercise or do housework. If you don’t understand your version, then read your kid’s Bible. Better to consistently read a simple Bible, than to give up on unrealistic goals by the third week in January.
Family: You want to have a date with your wife every week. You want to take a different child out to breakfast each Saturday. You want to spend an hour in meaningful conversation with each child, each day. Great goals, but unrealistic. Why not leverage the obvious times when families can be together. Turn the TV off on school nights and keep the radio off when you’re all in the car together traveling from point A to Point B. You’ll be amazed how much conversation can grow out of that. And you have to eat. Instead of going out to expensive restaurants, why not try to catch at least four dinners together each week. They’ll make the special dates you have with your kids that much better.
Those weekly dates with your wife are going to be hard to keep up. How about just setting aside at least one night a week to be together. Take a walk, sit and talk, go to bed early so you can get up earlier and spend a few moments praying together.
You get the point. We don’t need to go to a bunch of seminars on success to learn how to be successful. You don’t have to be a nerd to know how to maintain disciplines. A handful of realistic, attainable goals can get you to where you need to be this time next year–closer to God, closer to each other, and more valuable to both.
Source: Tim Kimmel