A lot of people arrive in February with the same feeling: Regret.
We are not talking about hangovers. We are talking about resolutions. January seemed like a natural moment to consider how your future will be different. This is a brand new year, and you might want to be a brand new person! You will adopt new habits. You will take bigger risks. You will have new adventures. You are resolved!
But so few of us accomplish what we set out to do. In fact, research by the University of Scranton says only 8% of people who make resolutions actually reach their goals in the year ahead.
At this point in your life, you might have started disbelieving in resolutions altogether. But deep down, we know we can change. You would not be reading this if you did not believe “better” or “more” or “further” or “stronger” were possible.
We have good news for you. There is just one simple difference between people who stay stuck and people who move forward in every aspect of their lives.
What is it? What is up with that 8%? What do they have that the rest of us don’t?
Are you awful at setting goals? Probably not. Do you need to try harder? Maybe not.
It comes down to one factor. To fully understand this single distinction, we must realize there are 3 different ways people approach their lives:
Some people are wasting their lives.
These are the people in your radius who do not have any sense of vision for their lives, their marriages, their kids, careers, or their spiritual lives. They have chosen (though they won’t say this) to be a victim of their emotions and their circumstances. You might know someone like this. You might be willing to admit that you are (or have been) one of them.
Some people spend their lives wanting.
This describes most people. We want rich, meaningful lives. We want faith that fuels and focuses us. We want to have financial freedom. We want our lives to matter for something. We want to lose those pounds. We want to meet “the one”. Spiritual people may say “We believe God can [fill in the blank].” This is a religious way of saying “I want this to happen.” People living life here have no problem picturing how they want life to be, but they endure year after year of regret and disappointment. They wonder why there is still such a distance between where they are and what they want.
The 8% are willing to take action.
These are the rare people. This is the 8%. These are the men and women who refuse to waste their days on earth. These are the rare folks who avoid being disheartened by unmet wanting. These are the people who are willing to choose.
There is an incredibly simple way to know if you land in this narrow category. We don’t doubt you want to grow. But here’s the real question: what are you willing to do about it?
Take that question seriously. What are you willing to do? When do your goals show up on your calendar? Where is the record of the email you sent for it? The call you made for it? The flight you booked for it? The investment you made for it?
There is no way around it. The man who will do something stands a much better chance than the man who simply wants something. The man who will change is the man who says, “I will take that step. I will start that habit. I will say ‘no’ to what holds me back. I will say ‘yes’ to what moves me forward. I will take that risk.”
James, Jesus’ biological brother, knew that believing in Jesus gave you a life with God forever. But some people took that to mean you don’t have to do anything else to experience all that God wants for you. James addressed this misconception in a letter:
What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
In other words, what good is it to want all the right things if you are not willing to do anything about it? What good is it if you want to make a difference, but you fail to do anything about it? What good is the protege artist who never practices their instrument? What good is the brilliant writer who doesn’t finish their screenplay? What good is the generous father who never makes time for his kids? What good is the kind-hearted person who never acts heroically?
The opposite of faith isn’t doubt. The opposite of faith is apathy. You are not thwarted by your inability. You can start with your inability. You can start with your insecurity. You can start with your inadequacy. You can use your insufficiency.
What holds you back is your inactivity.
What the “You” in 12 Months Wants the “You” Right Now to Figure Out
Choices create change.
The life you want is not just built on believing. It is built on choosing.
Said another way, wanting without willing is pointless. Every man who chooses to do something in the next twelve months will radically outpace any man who just wants something more.
Every man has a picture of “one day”. “One day, I will be there vocationally” or “One day, I will be there relationally” or “One day, I will be there spiritually.” But the only way to get from where you are to your particular “One Day” is to decide on your “Day One”.
If you do not choose a “Day One” of willingness, you might as well call “One Day” what it is: “Never.”
An Exercise to Help You Get Started
- Get a blank sheet of paper or digital note. Create 5 categories — written across the top of the page or typed in ALL CAPS:
- Write one sentence about what you want in that category in the next 30 days.
- Directly under it or across from it, write one sentence about something you will do to create that reality.
- Share the 5 “Will”s with someone from the Unravel community. If you’ve not started a group yet, reach out to a man you already know and trust. Ask him to check in with you at least once a week for 30 days to keep you on track.
You might say, “When I have the confidence, I’ll take action.” But confidence can only be built by taking action. When you make the choice to get started, you will build the confidence you thought you needed to make the decision in the first place.
So when will your “Day One” be? Make the choice and get started.