What We’ll Resolve

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Did you see the post online a few weeks ago that said, “For 2017 my goal was to lose 15 pounds. Good news….I only have 20 to go!”? The turning of 2017 into 2018 prompts many of us to make a resolution for the new year ahead. Usually these have to with correcting a bad habit or accomplishing something we never got around to in the past year. Yet studies suggest that between 80 to 90 percent of our typical resolutions are broken by the end of February.

With those odds, it’s tempting to say “why bother?” In fact, many resolutions of the year 2018 will fail because we have a great track record of earlier resolutions failing. It’s almost as if we secretly know that while we pat ourselves on the back on January first for even imagining our new goals, that these things won’t truly come to pass.

Behavioral psychologists suggest that five things need to be included in a successful resolution: (1) The resolution needs to be specific. (Not “I’ll be healthier”, but “I’ll lose some weight.”) (2) The resolution needs to be measurable. (Not merely, “I’ll lose some weight,” but “I’ll lose five pounds in two months.”) (3) The resolution needs to be attainable. (Not “I’ll write my 10,000 page memoir this year,” but “I’ll start a blog that becomes my memoir.”) (4) The resolution needs to be relevant. (Not “I’m going to organize my papers that I haven’t looked at in fourteen years,” but “I’ll start a new system for dealing with my 2018 paperwork.”) (5) One must be accountable to others for the resolution. That means telling others about it. And not just telling about the resolution (e.g. “I plan on going to church every week.”) but telling others whenever you actually live out that resolution.

Posting on a social media site is one way to be accountable to others. If you belong to a site like Facebook you might already notice some of your friends listing when they went to a gym or when they reached a certain weight goal, etc. Watch as their friends affirm these milestones, thus making the continuation of the resolution more likely.

But you don’t need to be online to do this. Just tell others who care about you what you are doing. That’s not bragging. That’s involving them in your motivation and success. And be sure to affirm others who are trying to live out their resolutions. We need each other to be successful.

For those who feel led to making a resolution but are not sure what to chose, naturally I’ll suggest the “keep holy the Lord’s Day” resolution. When people are engaged with a believing community at their house of worship, lots of benefits flow. These include less worrying, a healthier outlook on life, being supported by a caring community, being open to God’s messages of healing and hope.

But just as you can’t tell me what resolution makes most sense for me, I can’t tell you what to do. I just know that myself and countless others find that stopping the rat race of life for a day each week in order to connect with God on a deeper level results in a more balanced life.

Whether you make any resolutions at this time of the year not, may I take this opportunity to wish you and your loved ones a blessed new year ahead!

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Pastor of St. Bernard's since 2013 and known for his engaging homilies and community presence, Father Ralph Sommer is also a treasured columnist for the Levittown Tribune.

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