Most of us are familiar with the idiom “turning over a new leaf.” Most likely the imagery is that of turning over a leaf (page) in a book. However, we understand the meaning to be: “making a new or fresh start.” As we begin a new year, a lot of us have made resolutions to improve our lives in some way. Some of the top ones every year are to lose weight; to exercise more; to give up a bad habit; to be a better friend, etc. In most lists, spiritual resolutions are also included.
All of these things can be good for us and there is nothing bad about wanting to turn over a new leaf. The sad part is that most resolutions are short-lived. According to a survey by time management firm, Franklin Covey, four out of five people who make them will break them. In fact, by February most resolutions are abandoned.
Unfortunately, some folks are as bad at keeping their spiritual resolutions as they are the physical ones. So, I want to offer a few suggestions that might help the new leaf stay “turned.”
First, consider carefully the things you need to change about your life and then write them down. According to Brian Tracy in The Power of Discipline, studies show that those who write down their goals and resolutions are about 1,000 times more likely to follow through than those who do not write them down.
Second, make a concrete commitment. Saying, “I can” or “I will” is much different than saying, “I hope I can…” or “I sure would like to…” accomplish a given matter (cf. Philippians 4:13).
Third, pray for God’s strength to sustain you. After all, Scripture does teach us that we are to pray about everything (cf. Philippians 4:6).
Fourth, share your resolutions with a good Christian friend. They can pray for you and hold you accountable (cf. Galatians 6:2; James 5:16).
Finally, apply the virtue of persistence. The New Testament is replete with passages concerning persistence and perseverance. The experts tell us it takes about 21 days to establish a habit. Further, it you can keep up a practice for 60 days, it becomes a part of your character.
So, if you are attempting to “turn over a new leaf,” don’t just “think” it can be done- - but with God’s help “know” it will be accomplished!