On New Year’s Day, Make a Six-Week Resolution Instead

By Joe McKeever

Photo by Tc Morgan.

When I was 8 years old, using the new Bible my dad had given me for Christmas, I began reading a chapter each night before going to bed. And, I stayed with the program for several years.(I bogged down in the major prophets. Just too heavy going for a kid.)

When I was about 12 or 13, under the influence of older cousin Billy who seemed to know a great many things the rest of the world was clueless about, I quit using a pillow at night. For years, I slept without a pillow because Billy said using one produced poor posture.

Several times in my latter years, I have started on January 1 and read the Bible through, marking up the Scriptures in order to present to one of our eight grands.  One year, in order to present Bibles to twins Abby and Erin, I alternated with two Bibles, but made sure to mark them both alike.

So, I’m not at all against making resolutions and keeping them.

It’s just that a lot of people shy away from making commitments for a full 365 days. It’s so intimidating. So, rather than begin something they cannot complete, they do nothing.

If you stand before a group and ask, “How many of you are making some kind of New Year’s resolutions this January 1?” the answer will almost always be silence. No one is.

So, I’d like to propose a better way.

I’m recommending Six Weeks Resolutions.

People who study these things say new habits take six weeks to take hold. So, what if you and I began on January 1 with something we feel convicted about (burdened over, guilty about, devoted to–however you want to put it) and committed ourselves to the program for only six weeks.

At the end of the period, if we have done it faithfully, the new habit should be in place and we will find it easy to commit ourselves to another six weeks. Or better, we will no longer worry about time frames, but just keep on doing what we’re doing.

What this does not do is to burden us from the outset with “having to do this program every day for the next year.”  That sounds so depressing!

But we can do anything for only six weeks.

In Scripture, forty days seems to be the magic number. And, what is that, but basically six weeks.

The only thing worse than telling ourselves we have to do something “every night for the next year” is to tell ourselves we have to do this for the rest of our lives! And I’ve been there.

Eight years ago, after the doctors had removed the cancer from under my tongue and begun the radiation process, the endodontist gave me a bottle of fluoride gel, made a mold of my teeth, and said, “I want you to do this program every night.”

The program? “Put a line of fluoride gel in the molds for both your upper and lower teeth. Place them in your mouth and leave them there for 10 minutes.” (The first few nights, I gagged on the mouthful of these contraptions. Gradually, I got used to them.)

“Then, after 10 minutes, take the molds out and rinse them off and put them away. Wait 30 minutes before rinsing your mouth or drinking anything.”

And the clincher was: “Now, do this every night before you go to bed….for the rest of your life.”

Joe McKeever

Dr. Joe McKeever is a Preacher, Cartoonist, and retired Director of Missions for the Baptist Association of Greater New Orleans.