2011-02-24 / General Stories

Focus on the Family

New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Happen Overnight

Jim Daly Jim Daly Q: It’s February and I’ve already blown my New Year’s resolution to lose weight. I was really motivated but can’t seem to stick with it. Any advice?

Juli: Truth be told, few of us have been diligent to keep the promises we made to ourselves on Jan. 1. Whether it was to lose weight, stop smoking or to be a better parent, real change is difficult to consistently stay committed to.

One of the greatest barriers to keeping your New Year’s resolution is all-or-nothing thinking. In other words, since I ate a pint of ice cream yesterday, I guess the diet will have to wait until next year, or at least next week. Let’s face it ... we all fail to perfectly measure up to our greatest aspirations. The difference between success and failure is really based on whether or not you keep trying, even after you fail. Change doesn’t happen overnight. Research suggests that it takes an average of 66 days to form a new habit.

Juli Slattery Juli Slattery As you work toward losing weight, keep a couple of things in mind. Set goals that will change your lifestyle, like a healthy eating and exercise plan instead of targeting a number on the scale. Create a form of accountability, whether a friend to work out with or a formal weight loss program. It is much easier to stay committed to your goal when someone is cheering you on. Also, remember that medical or emotional issues can impact weight. You may want to consult your physician or perhaps a counselor if you continue to struggle.

Finally, consider this quote by GK Chesterton: “Anything worth doing is worth doing badly.” In other words, don’t give up just because you haven’t succeeded one hundred percent. Even a little progress this year is better than no progress!

Q: My husband and I are at our wit’s end with our 6-year-old daughter. She’s determined to challenge our authority and have things her own way. We’d like to think it’s just a stage, but our son wasn’t anywhere near this difficult when he was 6. What’s going on?

Jim: I think all parents have those times when they feel like they’re fighting a losing battle. No matter how many times we discipline our kids and try to help them make the right choices, the message just doesn’t seem to get through.

My wife, Jean, and I have faced this kind of frustration with our oldest son. He’s your typical strong-willed child. He sees things in black and white, which is not a bad quality in itself. But he often has trouble respecting authority. Time and again, we have tried to teach him the importance of being respectful. And time and again, he’s had us tearing our hair out! He never seemed to learn his lesson — until, that is, just recently.

Something has changed in our firstborn son. It’s like he’s had a burst of maturity. He’s getting perspective, and it’s clear that he’s beginning to understand that his actions have consequences, both for himself and for those around him. He’s more respectful of his mom and dad, not to mention his little brother.

Did Jean and I discover some magic formula to bring about this change? No — we’ve just been doing what we’ve always done. But I think that’s the point. If we’re consistent and persistent with our kids when it comes to discipline and boundaries, the message is going to get through eventually. There may be conflict along the way, as you’ve discovered with your daughter. But by God’s grace, one day she’ll thank you for your efforts to develop character in her when she was younger. The important thing is that you don’t give up. And above all, make sure she knows you love her.

Jim Daly is president of Focus on the Family, host of the Focus on the Family radio program, and a husband and father of two. Dr. Juli Slattery is a licensed psychologist, co-host of Focus on the Family, author of several books, and a wife and mother of three. Submit your questions to: ask@FocusOnTheFamily.com. Copyright 2011 Focus on the Family, Colorado Springs, CO 80995

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