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Ready, Aim, Resolve!
© Debbie Porter – 29th December, 2004

I used to do it a long time ago – back in those hazy, eager, careless days of my childhood when promises were easily broken and a New Year’s Resolution meant nothing more than having a go.

With the start of each New Year I would resolve to stop biting my nails, keep my room tidy, always do my homework on time and not lose my temper. But before too long, I’d be sitting in the midst of a bedroom of chaos, biting my nails to the quick and feeling angry with myself because, once again, I had an assignment due the next day that I hadn’t even started.

I was still making those empty promises as a teenager; but was also beginning to realize just how ineffectual they were. They were as flimsy as trying to use tissue paper for a drum skin – in fact, even flimsier!

As I moved from adolescence to "maturity" I resolved that the whole resolution thing was just too big a burden for any person to have to carry, and decided to ditch the whole idea altogether. Instead, I reasoned, if I needed to change something, I’d just work through it when and if the time arose.

And for the most part, that’s exactly what I did. Amazingly enough, God met me on my travels into adulthood and started to give me the reason and help to make the changes that needed to be made. With Him by my side, every day was another fresh page and a new opportunity to start over.

It suited me perfectly – that was, until last year.

It wasn’t a conscious decision to make a New Year’s Resolution and I didn’t even frame it with those previously forbidden words, "I resolve …" Yet as I stood hanging out the washing on January 1, 2004, two little words came to mind, "Efficiently, effectively."

They popped out of my mouth before I had time to really think about what I was saying – but I knew that it was going to be my resolution for the year to come. In every way I wanted to do everything efficiently and effectively.

With a busy lifestyle, those two words became my mantra. I wanted to do everything right first time. I didn’t want to waste a single second, let alone a minute, on anything that was inefficient of ineffective. No more fumbling, bumbling or stumbling around – the Year 2004 was going to be one of super efficiency and effectiveness.

Now for the most part, this was a resolution that I could keep, because I already kept a fairly tight schedule. But to my way of thinking, this vow would make things all the tighter and leave no margin for error.

By now, you are probably shaking your head and laughing at my overly idealistic, superhuman goal – and if you are, you would be quite right to do so.

As I said, doing things "efficiently and effectively" wasn’t a problem eight or nine times out of ten. But then there were those other times … when I would spill something on my freshly cleaned kitchen floor, or drop a sock while hanging out the washing and have to chase the dog around the back garden to retrieve it, or type a long e-mail to someone only to accidentally delete it before sending it on its way through cyber-space … those were the times when the reminder of my resolution would come groaning back through my clenched teeth, "Efficiently! Effectively! GRRR!"

The fact that I was able to do things right the first time more often than not, didn’t matter. At those other times of slips, drops, fumbles and deletes, I could only think of one thing – Failure, with a capital "F".

Now that may seem a bit harsh, but think about it. My resolution was to do everything, in every way, efficiently and effectively. Anything short of that was, obviously, a failure to achieve my resolution.

Thankfully, having been a non-resolution maker for years, I was very quickly able to recognize where I had gone wrong – and it wasn’t in "breaking" my resolution. The problem was, quite simply, in setting a totally unachievable and unrealistic goal.

So, instead of tossing it all aside as another New Year’s Resolution for the scrap heap, I chose to re-work my resolution into a goal that was possible to reach. My re-worded resolution was, "I aim to try and do all things in a way that is efficient and effective."

Problem solved with just one simple word – aim. No longer was I under a cloud of defeat every time I messed something up and missed the mark. Instead, I was able to rejoice in those times when I made a perfect bull’s eye, before re-loading and setting aim once more. If I hit the bull’s eye on the next shot, then great. If not, then I just had to re-load, take aim and try again. Every time I did that, I was keeping my resolution.

Setting a New Year’s Resolution can be a great spur toward making changes in our lives. It’s a brand New Year, with a fresh, unmarked calendar ahead waiting for us to experience. It’s no wonder so many feel compelled to formalize that new start with a promise to clean up those less than attractive splodges on the old!

But if we are really serious about making our resolutions, there are two things we need to keep in mind. We should:
  1. Make sure that we have a way of knowing when we have reached our goal.
  2. Make our resolution achievable by not setting unrealistic expectations of perfection.
A resolution like, "I want to be more passionate for God", is a very commendable goal to set – but how will we know when the target has been reached? Far better to word it as, "I will do all I can to build passion for God in my life by spending ten uninterrupted minutes with Him each day."

Only ten minutes? Well, that’s up to the person making the resolution – but again, it’s far better to start with something small and achievable, and build up over the year, rather than set the "passion meter" at one hour a day right from the outset, and fall miserably short within the week.

You see, when we resolve something, we are really saying that we have made a firm decision about the matter and have set our heart, mind and soul toward achieving that goal – and will allow nothing to stand in our way or steer us off course. It is, quite literally, to be determined and unwavering in our decision.

Knowing how unrealistic, over-ambitious and wishful most of tend to be when it comes to setting these New Year’s Resolutions, it makes me even more thankful that there was One who resolved in His heart to follow the path set before Him, and was unswerving in that decision.

Luke spoke of our Savior’s determination to follow through, no matter what the cost, when he wrote, "As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem." (Luke 9:51 NIV)

Jesus knew what was ahead for Him when He set out for Jerusalem. He knew it was the beginning of the end of His time on earth … and the start of a new beginning for all creation.

When Christ resolved to do something, it was as good as set in concrete. He was a Man of His word, and as imitators of Christ, we should be no less.

So as we step into this wonderful, bright, untarnished New Year, let’s take a moment to set some achievable, recognizable goals for 2005. Then, and only then, is it time to get ready … take aim … resolve!
Debbie Porter has encouraged, inspired and entertained thousands of men and women around the world through her writing since June, 2000. Her greatest desire is to encourage and build up the people of God to believe in their God given potential and to step into everything they were created to be. Deb lives with her husband and two teenagers in Sydney, Australia. You can contact Debbie through the "Your Letters" page of FaithWriters’ Magazine, or by visiting her website at http://www.breathfreshair.org

LIFE LESSONS FROM 2004:
I’ve learned that wisdom comes from goofing up and figuring out what happened and not doing it again. (Lucian Thompson)