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Chaplain: Three steps for a better New Year

By Allen Teal, Chaplain

Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? (Luke 14:28, NIV).

Weight loss, saving money and exercising more are all worthy resolutions for the new year. New Year’s resolutions have been around for more than 4,000 years. Two thirds of these resolutions vanish before the end of January. By the end of the year, less than fifteen percent still survive. Why do these goals die before they are achieved?

Planning is not done.

Life-changing choices require a plan. Having a sequence of steps keeps you moving forward. Many resolutions fall apart when we are uncertain what to do next. When a clear path is not in front of us, the temptation to change direction is greater. For example: not having appropriate snacks prepared ahead of time makes it easier to open a bag of potato chips or grab a candy bar to eat.

Price is not considered.

Everything comes with a cost. In business, opportunity costs play a big role in a company’s direction. The money spent on one business opportunity can mean that other options cannot be pursued for financial reasons. Personal choices come with similar costs. It is not always about money. To exercise more, you may need to restrict your social life to allow enough time to train.

People around you do not help.

Everyone comes with a peer group. Well-meaning family and friends will tempt you to stray from your resolution. Without having a plan or having considered the cost, it can be very difficult to say no to temptation. Big life changes frequently require a conscious decision to change your associates. Alcoholics can’t hang out at the bar. Overeaters need to stay away from buffet lines. Spenders must limit entertainment and shopping.

Progressing spiritually requires determination.

Jesus understood how difficult change is. In Luke 14, he uses two parables to teach his disciples to count the cost. One parable speaks about fighting a war with an inferior army. The other warns not to start a building project without knowing if you have enough resources. For the new year, a great resolution would be raising the level of your spiritual life. Developing a plan, counting the cost and enlisting help increases the likelihood and level of your success. Finally, always trust God to walk with you on your new journey.

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