We’re coming into the time of year when the fitness equipment goes on sale at Walmart and the commercials change from holiday jingles to discounts as chain gyms. The new year rolls around and when people wake up next weekend, they’ll start thinking about resolutions. The problem is, most people commit to resolutions because they “should”, not because they want to. And change doesn’t just happen one time a year. It happens every day, and making lasting change, no matter the reason or the adjustment in our lives, means taking small, successful steps each and every day, not making one big change in January and then expecting to stick to it year round.

When we create resolutions because we “should”, and I think we all know what those resolutions might be, we’re not making the change authenticly. We’re not reaching into ourselves, finding out why we want to make the change, and then making that work for us. We’re doing what we’re told, like obedient little cogs in a big system. And the cog finds that doing the same thing because they’re supposed to day after day, gets tiresome. Like the elf that wanted to be a dentist, sometimes we want to do things because we want to do them, not because we have to.

It’s the “have to” that cages us in. We lock ourselves in a cage; we pen ourselves in. And like the horse that lives in a stall all the time, or a chicken in a brooder cage, never getting to see the light of day, we become impatient, antsy, and we look for a way to escape at the first chance we have. So we start to have “cheat” days. Not the ones you build into the system, but rather the “I can’t take it any more” kind of cheat days where you completely go off plan and then have to start again.

Resolutions should not be a cage. They should not box us in or leave us with few options. Instead, they should be a pathway to a journey, one we want to take and one we want to be encouraged where it will lead us. Let your desire for change create opportunity and joy, not frustration and denial.

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