I'm really bad at keeping New Year's resolutions. I know a lot of folks are. Making resolutions remains a big part of our culture. So does breaking them.
In the last year or two my family has started to shift toward short-term resolutions, disciplines, and habit-building. It puts our goals within reach. We still have longer term goals, but by creating bite-sized "wins" we help ourselves take manageable strides toward them. We still make mistakes, as I explain below, but because the resolutions are short-term we get to adjust in the short-term.
This is what we have been doing.
We locate a date 3-6 weeks off. It might be the day a vacation starts, a holiday, the day school is over, etc. There's always something 3-6 weeks out we can choose as an end date. Then we think about and talk about what we want to do and write it down. Different types of fasting are involved as well as disciplines.
Here are main areas of focus as we kicked off 2014. We called it a "January Fast" (though it wasn't only fasting).
- BIBLE READING - The kids and Molly completed a 24 day reading plan through Luke. The kids also completed a 5 day reading plan on student leadership. I read the New Testament in full in January. We picked and followed our plans through YouVersion. The family mostly read in their personal Bibles and I read YouVersion on my iPad. I've never done that and liked it a lot more than I expected.
- FOOD - We limited, beyond regular family limitations, intake of sugary drinks/soda. The most difficult food-related fast was not going out to eat in January. We had grown lazy with that and needed a change.
- GAMES - We fasted from some of our favorite video games, mostly on the PS3. I haven't played Black Ops II for a month. That was difficult. My two youngest boys and typically play for 20 minutes almost every day.
- COMPUTERS - We put tighter limits on the use of computers and electronics by the kids for January. We had two "no electronics" days a week in January.
There were other pieces of the "January Fast" that we planned and only completed in part. Some reading I didn't finish, for example. I planned too much. We did some Bible memory, but not all we wanted. Our family worship didn't quite go as planned. And we were going to do a more traditional fast from food during the month but somehow it didn't happen (my youngest pointed that out). But with short-term family resolutions we are always only a few weeks away from hitting refresh, changing goals, fasting from something new, or whatever else we'd like to work on.
In the past we've done things like no-shopping fasts where we have to make meals out of whatever is in the freezer and pantry so that we don't shop for more food for a few weeks. It's amazing how much great food keeps getting passed over and over.
To break our "January Fast" we are going out to eat tonight. It's probably going to be something simple, a burger and a Coke. But we don't know for sure where we are going because every time we try to discuss it with the kids they keep talking about what God's been teaching them though the fast! It's been a very cool, and in many ways difficult, January. But it's been good. I'm sure tonight we'll be talking about what "fast" we'll try before spring break!