It was New Year's Eve 2019. I was operating the cash register of my daughter's store-- Littleton Market in Littleton, Colorado--ready to THROW DOWN THE GAUNTLET for any customers up for the challenge. Yes, The Second Annual Littleton Market Throw Down the Gauntlet Challenge had arrived, and it took us back to the time of Medieval Knights who'd remove their chain-mail glove, state their daring, and fling that glove or gauntlet at the feet of their opponent. Although none of us flung anything metal at each other that day, all twelve of us who through the day picked up my leather glove and firmly threw it down on the counter stated only ONE change each wanted to achieve in 2020. And perhaps you can be the thirteenth to throw down the gauntlet with your one achievable desire, thus making 2020 the best!
We've Been Lied To
In Matthew Kelly's book Perfectly Yourself: Discovering God's Dream for You, Kelly jolts the reader with the verbal expressions by which many of us were raised, "Pull yourself up by your bootstraps." "You can do anything you set your mind to." "You can have anything if you want it badly enough." Are these common sayings our elders passed onto us real? Can we have anything we want if we want it badly enough? No, of course not. I would have preferred to downhill ski until I was in my 90's, but a complete spinal fusion stopped that big-time (I'd snap in two if I fell), but the fusion gave me a whole new life in other ways. It was good that I re-focused on change instead of unreachable goals.
We've been lied to, as Kelly states by traditional sayings which have been passed on to encourage, not discourage, but discourage us they often do.
However, should that stop us from making a New Year's Resolution, thinking we can't achieve it? Shouldn't this present year be better than the past if we have anything to do with it? Of course, it should, but too often, we stop there because we feel like "making another New Year's Resolution is just setting us up for failure." We haven't achieved all those resolutions of the past, so why should this year be different?
Only One Change Can Make a Difference
The enemy is out to lie and steal, so it makes perfect sense that anything Christians want to achieve will be skewed. The enemy whispers, "You can't lose those extra pounds. You have lost before and gained back even more. You are a loser. Don't even try." Does this conversation sound familiar? We've all had those lies wash over us. But who is in charge, the enemy or God?
God, of course, is our TRUTH, and He wants us to become the best version of ourselves, as Matthew Kelly often states. And to become our best means making changes. But therein lies the problem of New Year's Resolutions. They are in the plural, not the singular. Thus if we could work on just one change a year, we could, over time, change our life.
Another way to look at just choosing ONE GOAL versus several is to consider how God created the earth. Did He speak, and everything appeared at once? Poof!!! No. Our Father took seven days, and yet we want all our goals done NOW! That is not the example of patience our Heavenly Father gave us.
One of my favorite books regarding this subject is The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson. In it, Olson states that we should be focusing not on achieving our greater goals but on accomplishing those small daily tasks which are easy to do and easy not to do. We can control those tasks (our "slight edge") because they move us towards our greater goal. Olson also confirms that you can put virtually anything in your life on the right track in three to five years. For example, my one gauntlet goal this year, which I stated 12 times after my customers had stated their one goal is to finish my book and get it to a publisher by 2020. Now I have been working on this book, SOS: SURVIVING (and thriving!) on ONE SALARY for twenty-two years! Why in the Sam Hill should I have success now? Because my gauntlet goal of last year was to write five hours a day versus one. This slight edge discipline has moved me in the direction of success. And another example of how effective just one goal a year can be was that in 2016, I took Matthew Kelly's challenge and began reading five pages a day from a good book. Before that time, I wasn't reading enough. Since making that goal, I've read ten books that would have otherwise remained unopened. Five pages a day adds up. The Slight Edge works.
You Can Do This
Yes, now is the time to decide. Are you willing to take The Gauntlet Challenge and mentally or actually slap your glove down on the table with your spoken goal? It doesn't have to be anything huge. Here is what the twelve people listed (a few were the same goals): to spend more time with my grandchildren, to memorize scripture, to get organized, to spend more time with a sibling, to drink more water, to lose 10 pounds, to live more in the moment, to finally lose this weight, to continue to eat vegan, to practice kindness, and to ride a new Christmas bike. None of them giant things but all of them life changers.
If you decide to throw down your gauntlet, let me know so that I can pray for you. firstname.lastname@example.org I'd love to be a part of your dream. And if you are in Colorado next year on New Year's Eve, come to Littleton Market for The Third Annual Throw Down the Gauntlet Challenge. You will automatically win your prize first (that was part of the process for those twelve people-- a Frugal Catholic homemade dishcloth!!!) as a reminder of your desire. You are a winner, not a loser. YOU are a child of the King.
"I can do all things through him who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13 NRSVCE
Martha Wild King, M. Ed., Author
The Frugal Catholic: Learn to live on less to give and save more.