Change is hard.
Is there anyone that disagrees with this? I suspect most of us have had one of those Dr. Phil moments at one time or another. You know where he says, “So how is that working for you?”
Truth is we know in our heart that what we are doing isn’t working out so well. We know we ought to change. But, somehow it is easier to just stay where we are.
- We know we should lose some weight, but that donut at the break table looks good and I can start tomorrow.
- Tomorrow morning I’ll get up and exercise. Really I am going to start. Then the alarm goes off and I roll over and go back to sleep.
- Maybe I hate my job or I’m struggling to get by because it doesn’t pay much, but week after week goes by and I haven’t really done anything to change.
- Maybe I’m drowning in debt and have no savings. I tried to do a budget but soon I slipped back into my old ways.
How do I manage to change and stick with it?
The act of changing is hard, but it is so much easier when we start with the end result. Sacrifice without a purpose seems like a punishment.
For married couples I think it is critical that you have shared goals. You will find it very difficult to achieve your desires if one spouse is going one direction and the other is heading a different direction.
Amos tells us:
Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so? (Amos 3:3 NIV)
It is very hard to get to your destination if you aren’t in agreement about where you are going. But when you are walking together everything is easier.
Choosing a common destination
Spending some time discussing your goals as a couple is key to making sure you both have the same destination in mind.
What is your view of debt? No big deal as long as you can make the payments? Something to be avoided as much as possible and paid off as quickly as possible if necessary.
What kind of home do you want? What neighborhood? How big? How do you feel about renting?
Do you need to pursue more education? Dream of a better job that requires some different education?
Hope to retire early? Love your job and plan to work until you drop? What kind of retirement do you want? Snow bird? Hope to travel? How much money will you need to have available on retirement to live your dreams?
Children and college
Do you hope to fund your children’s college education? Or do you expect them to work and pay their own way? Or somewhere in between? Looking at an in state school or thinking Ivy League?
What are your goals for giving? Tithing? Tithing plus? Do you have a special cause you want to be able to give to?
These are just some sample categories to get you thinking.
As I said change is hard. But if you have a goal in mind that you are working toward then change becomes a little easier because the pain of change has a purpose. It is hard to say to myself when I want something, but if I know that saying no means my greater goal of paying off my house or funding my kids college is one step closer than that no is much easier to say since it has a purpose.
Better still if my spouse and I have shared goals and can encourage each other along the way, that change becomes even easier still.
What if I’m single
If you are single, goals can be just as important – maybe even more so. When you are a single you have one big advantage. You don’t have to worry about how to come to an agreement if your goals don’t match those of your spouse. On the flip side you also don’t have someone to help hold you accountable and on track. If you find yourself easily distracted from your goals it can be very helpful to find a friend or family member that can act as an accountability partner to keep you on track. This needs to be a person that loves you enough to bust you and maybe even hurt your feelings a little when you wander away from your goals.
Communication is the key
Obviously, you can’t have shared goals without taking the time to talk about them. Our culture can be so busy sometimes that it is very hard to find uninterrupted time for these types of discussions. I challenge you if you haven’t done this recently make the time. No TV. No phones. No kids. Use the list above as a starting point or make your own list. Talk about your dreams and then set goals on how you can reach them.
Changing is never easy. But if you have a purpose and you are working together to achieve a shared dream, then the sacrifices you need to make to change won’t seem nearly as difficult.