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Be like Zacchaeus

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As we move through February the New Year is a fading memory for most of us, as are the New year’s Resolutions that some of us will have made.  Whether you decided to join the in Veganuary or lose weight after a large Christmas Lunch it is highly likely that the smell of a tempting bacon sandwich has put pay to your ideas of becoming a New Year vegan or lowering your pre-spring calorie intake.  Research suggests that by February some 64% of people abandon the commitments they made as Auld Lang Syne filled the air.

Sticking to a plan to change can be challenging at the best of times and New Year resolutions are often the hardest to keep.  Over half of people who make New Year’s resolutions make and break the same one year, after year.  Often when we set ourselves the challenge to make a positive change in our lives, we are too vague setting goals like, ‘be happier’ or ‘get fit’ that are hard to define success or see small steps to achieving the goal. The other main reason we fail is because we don’t climb a tree, but I’ll come to that in a moment.

I find the bible is full of helpful advice for everyday life, even those bits that are told as children’s stories. Take the story of Zacchaeus, a short, corrupt tax collector from Jericho.  Zacchaeus learned that Jesus the prophet was passing through the city.  Since Zacchaeus was "short in stature," he ran ahead of the crowd and climbed up into a sycamore tree to have a better view of Jesus.  When Jesus arrived, he noticed Zacchaeus in the tree and said to him, "Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today."  This made the crowd "grumble," as they had been the ones defrauded by Zacchaeus.  Zacchaeus had decided to make a change and declared "Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much." 
Zacchaeus made a resolution to change, it was very specific with measurable goals. To give to the poor, and to pay back four times.  Setting achievable, realistic, and measurable goals are key to making change happen in our lives.  Zacchaeus also climbed a tree.  His decision to change could be seen by others, there was no going back.  Psychologists call this having an accountability structure.  

If you have made a decision to make a change in your life this new year and have given up or are just finding it hard, let me encourage you to keep on going.  Maybe alter your goals to be smaller, focused, and achievable.  Swap get fitter, to walk for 20 minutes 4 days a week, then aim for 30.  Share your decisions to change with people that will support you and keep you accountable when you feel like giving up.  Looking to improve your well-being? Why not try the gathering place, our well-being group on a Wednesday afternoon?  No pressure just a relaxed space to be supported as you look to improve or overhaul your well-being. If change is possible a short corrupt tax collector, you can do it too.