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New Year's Resolutions: BAH! HUMBUG!
Jerry L. Harber, D. Min.

By now, most of us have broken our New Year's resolutions. Good. Now we can set some meaningful goals. What do I mean by "meaningful"? A common example of a New Year's goal is weight loss. If losing weight is something your physician has urged you to do for health reasons, then I'd consider that a meaningful goal. It could add years to your life. If your resolving to lose weight is for purely cosmetic reasons, you might spend your time and emotional energy on something else.

When I think of meaningful goals, I tend to think of goals that will have a more direct and long-term impact on my life. I like the way Stephen Covey thinks about it. He says we are complex and should attend to all our dimensions, including both physical and spiritual aspects of ourselves. In my opinion, these are certainly two areas that most people short change. How many of us know we should eat differently, exercise more, and get more rest? All of us, right? How many of us deliberately work toward those things? Well, maybe this could be your year.

Spiritual goals are just as important. I'm not suggesting a goal of reading the Bible through, or promising to pray every day. These kinds of promises to yourself can be very hard to keep. But it might just be possible to develop a goal that ensures that you will think of God and God's wonderful gifts every day. I do it by surrounding myself with things that remind me of God. I have a cross in my office; I also have a little framed quotation on my desk that says, "Our help is in the name of the Lord that made heaven and earth." I leave a prayer book lying out as a visible reminder of worship. What you decide to use as a trigger is up to you. Maybe it's a necklace, a medal on a chain, a cross in your pocket - it doesn't matter. It doesn't even have to be anything overtly religious. It could be a rock you especially like. All that matters is when you look at or touch these things, you will, for at least a moment, think about God. Maybe that will remind you to have a moment of sharing with God, a brief, "hello, I was just thinking about you; thanks for everything."

Another suggestion I would make is a goal that has something to do with an important person in your life and your relationship with that person. I decided once to make sure my wife, Carol, got frequent reminders of her importance to me. I do things such as make the coffee before I leave and write a little note. The most recent one said: "Good morning, Baaboo! [Sorry!] I hope you have a fun day off. Your Sweetie [Sorry again]." One time near Easter, I drew a quick little sketch of an Easter Basket with eggs in it and a note that said, "Happy Easter." That little drawing is still pinned to her bulletin board years later.

These kinds of things are pretty easy to do. And they have an impact completely out of proportion to the time spent keeping them. Resolutions you can keep! What a concept! Happy New Year!

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