Hand stopping dominoes falling isolated on whiteThis time of the year, there’s a lot of talk about new year’s resolutions. Lose weight. Get organized. Eat healthy. Get on a budget. The list is long and varied, but the goal of each resolution is the same…a big change in some area of our life.

I heard a statistic that said 60% of people who make a new year’s resolution have abandoned it within six months. (Been there. Done that.)

Why do so many of us abandon our resolutions? They’re good resolutions. Important resolutions. What happens?

Often what happens is that we focus more on the final result of the resolution than the underlying mechanics of the resolution. Another way to put it is that we focus more on the product we want than on the pattern we follow.

But the results we get are less about the resolutions we make and more about the patterns we take. Here’s how it works…

  1. You pursue something you want. It’s usually something that’s a bit of a stretch for you, but something you envision making your life better.
  2. You face a distraction. You begin to pursue what you want and everything seems to go well at first. Then you encounter some sort of distraction that threatens to derail your progress. It may be an inconvenience, a temptation, a bad day, etc., but it’s real and powerful.
  3. You have to make a decision. In the face of that distraction, you have to make a decision. Will you continue to pursue what you said you wanted, or will you defer to the distraction and let it derail you?
  4. The pattern begins. Your decision on how to handle the distraction will set the pattern for future actions. If you decide to continue pursuing your goal, that goal will begin to rule your life…leading to a reward. If you decide to let the distraction trump your goal, distraction will begin to rule your life…leading your goal to be ruined.
  5. The pattern continues till changed. The patterns you’ve developed will continue and become entrenched…till they are disrupted by new front-end decisions.

So you see, the patterns we take are more important than the resolutions we make, and those patterns begin with decisions. Change the decision and you’ll change the pattern…which in turn will change the result.

I’m not saying this is easy. It’s not. That’s why 60% of us abandon our resolutions within 6 months. It’s hard to stick with that resolution to lose weight when you’re hungry and want that desert. But it’s easier to make small changes one decision at a time, than to make a broad, sweeping change with just one decision.

So don’t make a big resolution. Instead, make a decision to change a pattern…even if the change is small at first. That small change will produce a new pattern, as well as a new motivation to make further change.

Here’s hoping that this time next year you’ll be able to say, “I did something about “it” and I made progress!”

On another level…

Isaiah chapters 3-4 speak to the people of Judah, who were in a terrible predicament at the time. In these chapters, God reveals the pattern that got them in that predicament.

First, God speaks of the people’s rebellion, (3:1-9). That led to their rebellion ruling their lives, (3:9-15). This eventually led to the ruin of their lives, (3:16-4:1).

But…God goes on to tell the people of Judah that they can experience restoration, (4:2-6). How? By changing their decision to rebel.

God would have us turn to Him when it comes to the small, front-end decision. Why? Because if we obey on the front end, rather then rebel, we will change the larger patterns and outcomes of our lives. That sounds good to me.

What are the patterns you hope to change in 2015? Let us know and support each other.

Copyright © 2014 Bret Legg

2 thoughts on “Patterns”

  1. I keep trying to remember to take small steps towards a goal. I am not one to set up resolutions but I do have goals for the house and myself. When I take it one small step at a time it does not feel so overwhelming. Seeing even a little progress is encouraging and helps me push on. Realistic goals are also important.


Leave a Comment