by Ella Corey
Just finishing my first semester of college, I find I have learned what it’s like to hit the reset button. As I graduated high school last May, I would often hear people say things that began with “When I get to college I will…” They would then continue and explain how they are going to exercise more, or not procrastinate, or actually do their homework. I even had goals on how I would do things differently once I got to university. I figured once I’m there I would all of a sudden become this person with lots of free time and newfound self-discipline. Little did I know, old habits still carry over, and my ‘senioritis’ didn’t miraculously go away as I had hoped.
Whether it’s a new year, a new job, or a new school, new circumstances do not change old habits. New intentions do. We live in a generation of short-term goals. Instant Internet access and constant streaming twitter feeds have caused us to become increasingly more impatient, and because of this we often give up on resolutions far more quickly. In Biola University’s first chapel in the fall of 2014, President Barry H. Corey reflected on the importance of students making and following through with long-term goals. In this he stated, “Stringing together a series of short-term goals through life is not the same as living for a vision bigger than you are… make delayed gratification one of your generation’s enduring virtues. Step back and think about the long game, especially as you’re on the threshold of a new year.”
If you think about it, the longer you work on something, the more satisfying the reward is. Graduating college is much more fulfilling than just finishing one semester, losing 50 lbs. feels better than losing 5. Additionally, long-term goal making turns habits into a way of living. Rather than deciding to do something differently for a week, make it a month or a year. While it will be easier for you to fail, after enduring all that time your reward will be much more satisfying.
According to University of Scranton’s research on New Year’s resolutions, only 8 percent of people who make New Year’s resolutions are actually successful. Most people make it through the first week, then fail and give up. Also, Wilhelm Hofmann did a study proving that self-control is directly related to a person’s well being. In other words, having self-discipline and being willing to set new goals will actually improve your happiness level. The Bible speaks a lot on this too. In Philippians 3:12-15 Paul explains setting goals to love Christ:
“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.”
Endurance and patience are key to following through with all resolutions, but do not let the fear of failing at goals keep you from making them. Try and try again. As Bill Gates once said, “Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten.” Set goals that will change your lifestyle, and do not be discouraged by setbacks. Additionally, do not think that New Year’s is the only time you can remake yourself. As Christians, every day we are to work to be more and more Christ-like. Remember that changing habits takes more than the decision to do so, but it takes constant reminding and the ability to move through failure.