It is that time again. People are talking about resolutions. This year I'm going to burn off those Christmas desserts, tear up the credit cards, and live a wonderful life. One pastor's New Year's resolution was to get to know his deacons. His next year's resolution was to find a new church. Are resolutions a pointless ritual initiated by calendars or a great time to reconsider our own lives and reset our course?
The fact is that the celebration of the next year is a great time to examine the old one. This examination can be called a personal inventory or a cost analysis. Many successful people do what is called "zero-based" thinking in which they examine all that they are doing to see what is working and what is not. In our language it would be choosing between examining your life according to truth or continuing in the tradition of how you have always done it.
I am actually a psychic psychologist. I can look into your future. It will be just like your past only longer. Most of us believe what Forrest Gump said, "Life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you are going to get." That is not exactly true. Life is really more like a box of Whitman's Samplers. I used to love to get this box of chocolate at Christmas because on the top of the box was a list of what was inside. I knew that if I picked the third one from the right on the bottom I would have the pecan caramel chocolate. I'm not saying all of life is predictable. Even in the sampler there were some surprises wrapped in silver paper.
Life does have surprises, but most of life is predictable. Tell me what you are sowing, and I can tell you what you are reaping. If life is a sail boat race, successful people spend time and energy sailing (learning to adjust the sail or buy a better sail and so forth). They don't spend time or energy trying to control the wind.
For example, if you are a baseball player and only hitting line drives to the second baseman, you can gripe about the umpires and the pitchers, or you can change your swing. If last year you batted close to zero in life, next year is a great time to look at your swing. In other words, do a cost analysis or personal inventory. Take what you are doing now and extend it into the long term.
If you are saving $500 a year now for your retirement and you have twenty years left to work, you will have $10,000 plus a little interest saved for your retirement. Based on this cost analysis you can now develop a strategy — die early. See how simple this is?
Take another example. Let's say that you make $38,000 a year and you buy a $30,000 new truck by financing it. Your strategy is now that when you retire you will have to live in the truck.
When I started speaking on a full-time basis, I did a lot of banquets and gained seven pounds the first year. A cost analysis would indicate that if I gained seven pounds a year until I was sixty-five, I would weigh 316 pounds. My kids would have to ask that my casket be super-sized. I am using numbers because it is easier to understand what we can count. The idea is simply that if you keep on doing what you are now, what are the long term consequences?
Another way of thinking about it is: If you get where you are going, where will you be? The AA people call it a moral inventory. Think of anything that you are doing wrong. It is not like one patient told me, "There are three things wrong with me — my wife, my mother, and my oldest son." It's a personal inventory. If you can't think of anything, then you take out a piece of paper and guess. The AA people know that it is not normal or natural to guess, so they devised a way to help you start. They call it the Seven Deadlies. It comes from the seven deadly sins. Start with pride and go through them all. I don't have to tell you about anger, lust, and gluttony. Since this is a short column and you aren't interested in a sermon, I have speeded up the process.
I have completed a personal inventory of Baptists. The two main problems we have are obesity and divorce. Baptist marriages are so short that some people are throwing Minute Rice at weddings. So, as my therapy resolution, your gift from me is to walk four times a week with your wife. Pretty simple isn't it?
Guys have a hard time communicating unless they are involved in some type of physical activity. That's why we play golf — so we can fidget and talk. Walking with your wife is relaxing, so you can talk. Walking in the same direction increases the chances of your agreeing. Notice that if people disagree, they stop walking, turn, and look at each other. Your marriage will get better, and you will lose weight in the process. If you do this regularly, your wife will be comfortable enough to tell you what else is wrong with you. I told you this was simple.
Charles Lowery is founder and president of LIFE, Inc. and is in a fulltime speaking ministry. You may contact LIFE, Inc. at 903-881-9422 or www.charleslowery.com.