So you’ve drafted some New Year’s resolutions for 2017. You desperately want to live a new story…but how do you rewrite you?
Believe it or not, that’s something God is deeply interested in as well. As Paul reminds us, if anyone is in Christ, he or she is a new creation. You know what the process of rewriting your story and moving toward a better life is all about? The ancients used to call it sanctification—the process of being made new by the Holy Spirit.
The challenge, of course, is that every year can end up feeling like the last year unless you make a change. So how do you do that?
The answer is simpler than you think.
It involves a dynamic that few people talk about. But once you see it, things can begin to change. Radically.
If you don’t like the results you get, change the pattern the you’ve set.
Let me explain.
You encounter this problem every time you get something new.
Let’s say you get a new phone. Or a new car, which these days is basically a computer with four tires and a steering wheel.
Here’s what happens. At least it happens to me, and I’m sure it’s happened to you as well: the way you learn to use a device in the first 10 days is essentially the way you use it for the rest of its life.
And as a result, you’ll leave 90% of its potential—or more—untapped.
Here’s what I’ve discovered about myself. Whenever I get a new piece of technology, I try to ‘domesticate it’—to move it from an unknown to a known and controllable entity in a short span of time.
I don’t instinctively try out its maximum capacity.
I simply find a few cool features and try to get it to behave in a predictable way.
Almost everyone does it.
As a result, within about 10 days, all the experimentation is gone. We tell ourselves that we’ve mastered it. But we haven’t.
Within 10 days of getting something new, all experimentation is gone. New Year’s is like that.
And here’s why that’s so dangerous: our need for predictability kills our curiosity and innovation. It can also kill our dependence on God and our reliance on the Holy Spirit.
Which is exactly why your New Year’s resolutions fail. You’ve placed some new goals into a predictable system, and you stop innovating on how to make your system support your goals.
The only way to change that is through sustained experimentation.
So how do you change that?
Well, crush your pattern. Plain and simple. Just change it.
What if—for the first 30 days of 2017— you refused to settle into a pat routine with each of your key goals for the year?
I’m convinced that one of the enemies of progress is routine. We are creatures of habit, but our habits (repeated patterns of behaviour) often take us to places we don’t want to go.
It takes 21 days to make a new (and better) habit. Add a week or so to it and you’ll have an engrained pattern.
What would it look like if for the first 30 days of 2016 you launched a radical assault on the status quo?
You set your alarm clock for 5:30 a.m. and made no excuses?
You changed your meeting schedule so you could do something active 5 out of 7 days?
You cut the number of meetings you participate in by half?
You changed grocery stores and had to learn a new pattern of shopping – and you just never went down the chip aisle?
You used smaller plates for 30 days as a way to cut back portion size?
You gave away $50 a week you’re currently spending on yourself?
You picked up a new Bible (or got a new Bible app or reading plan) and never missed a reading for 30 days?
You decided not to speak a critical word to your family or friends and every day just prioritized doing it?
You took a new route to and from work to give you more thinking time?
You can fill in the blanks for whatever you need to rewrite, but you see the pattern, right?
Rethinking your patterns for the first 30 days of 2017 will set the pattern for how you spend the next 335 days of the year.
Your desire to domesticate the new year and make it predictable and ‘easy to use’ runs deep, and it will lead you to exactly where this year led you unless you attack that pattern.
2017 will be exactly like 2016 unless you intentionally change it.