Why Your New Year’s Resolutions Will Fail

Tomorrow is January 1, and it is easy to get caught up in the excitement of the new year and new opportunities. It’s that time again, America. It’s time for New Year’s resolutions. But Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist at Harvard Business School, warns your resolutions are very unlikely to come true and may do more harm than good.

In her new book, Presence, Cuddy writes, “We’re really bad at setting reasonable goals. And when we don’t meet an unreasonable goal, we fill ourselves with feelings of anxiety and lower our self-worth.” Dr. Cuddy offers four common mistakes with New Year’s resolutions.

1. They deal with absolutes.

“People are making absolute statements about what they’re going to do, and that’s setting them up for failure immediately,” Cuddy says, “because they’re not always going to go to the gym three times a week.” Circumstances beyond a person’s control will inevitably come between him and his absolute goals. But Cuddy warns to avoid the other extreme, one of setting vague and distant goals, such as “I’m going to get a job,” because that lacks specificity.

2. They are framed by negativity.

People tend to focus on things they want to change about themselves and things they don’t like about themselves. Cuddy argues, “When you do this, you’re eliciting in yourself negative emotions. Some negative emotions are motivating, but for the most part, they’re not.” It is better to attain “healthy eating,” rather than “no junk food.”

3. They are focused on the outcome and not the process.

Cuddy writes, “If you’re focused on walking 100 miles, and you’re constantly focused on that number, it’s going to be pretty demoralizing most of the way. You’re going to feel like a failure for so much of that because the comparison is between where I am now versus where I want to be.” Our best long-term outcomes are produced by lifestyle changes, not setting goals that are way out there.

4. They are reliant on outside forces.

It is unwise to set a goal to get a promotion at work. That is dependent on outside forces over which we have no control. Cuddy advocates for “self-nudging,” a process of constantly setting small goals in lieu of large ones. As a personal example, she says one of her goals last year was “to fall in love with running,” rather than something like “to go running three days each week.” As a natural byproduct of this approach, her pace began to pick up. And she didn’t even have to shame herself into getting into better shape.

Goals are a good thing. The man who aims for nothing will always hit it. Nehemiah had a goal to build a wall. Joshua had a goal to enter the promised land. Noah had a goal to build a boat. Solomon had a goal to build a temple. Jesus has a goal to build the kingdom. So go ahead – set goals. But in the process, remember that God numbers your days. It is good to think about where you want to be in one year. But it is even better to do something about it today.

The Rushmore Report – Should I Invest in the Stock Market?

I am often asked, “Should I invest in the stock market?” The volatility of the recent market makes this a more poignant question now than ever. This is my best advice. Proverbs 4:7 notes, “The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.” Before you decide how and even whether you should be involved to be in the stock market, consider this:

First: Understand your Finances.

Evaluate your own personal balance sheet, which includes your income, your assets, your obligations (your bills) and your debts. Too many of us are uninformed about our true financial picture.

In Proverbs we are advised: “Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds; for riches do not endure forever, and a crown is not secure for all generations.”

You can think of “a crown” as a job, which may end, and the flocks as savings and investment as livestock had value. Even kings need to know what’s in the bank.

Second: Understand the Difference Between Saving and Investing.

After you have established a budget that makes allowance for your obligations, such as tithing, and saving an emergency fund (for those undesirable events that happen to all of us), you will now know what you have available for investing. Your savings account should not be placed at risk. Investment funds are subject to loss but at various degrees of risk. If you cannot afford to lose the funds, they should be moved into a savings program consisting of money market funds, CD’s and/or treasuries.

Initially, we at Crown recommend that you invest about 5 percent of your income. You can learn more about budgeting here. But this is the important part — be prepared to lose it.

One of the realities of any investment is that sometimes it fails. What goes up often comes down.

Over the last few years, the stock market has enjoyed the financial momentum of emerging markets — these are growing economies in a group of countries called BRICS, representing the financial markets of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. But as you noted in your question, BRICS are in trouble. Brazil is headed into recession. China’s government is engaging in huge market corrections that worry investors about whether it is truly strong, and turmoil in the oil industry is impacting Russia and the Middle East. Of course here at home, we’ve had our own difficulties with job creation and a slow economy.

The bottom line is that when choosing investment or savings; don’t look for a quick profit from a deal too good to be true (it probably is). Choose carefully, and consider getting good financial advice from an advisor who shares your values.

Third: Understand and Practice Diversification.

Over the course of a lifetime of saving and investing, money will grow, but if you will need to retire soon, the stock market may be too volatile short term. Diversification is the only safe strategy for investing, to allow your money — the seed you have to sow — a chance to grow in more than one field, and to protect yourself from the rise and fall of markets.

Ecclesiastes 11:2 is Solomon’s timeless advice on diversification. It is the best hedge against uncertainty. He recommends dividing your “portions” or investment monies between 7 or 8 different opportunities. This equates to no more than 12-15% in a single fund.

Fourth: Understand that you have more options than just the stock market.

If you’re looking for a strategy for growing wealth and assets, consider the Proverbs 31 woman. She engaged in real estate, trading, fashion, working in a number of business ventures available to her. She diversified her investment, and rose early to make them profitable.

Perhaps investing in a local business would work better for you. Typically, investing in your own skills and talents pays the greatest dividends over time.

Fifth: Understand Slow Growth is Good.

All of us need to prepare for the future with wise saving and investing, but don’t be in too much a hurry as that can lead you to unnecessary risk.

“Dishonest money dwindles away, but whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow,” Proverbs 13:11.

About the Author

Chuck Bentley is the CEO of Crown, the largest Christian financial ministry in the world, founded by the late, Larry Burkett. He is an author, host of My MoneyLife- a daily radio feature and a frequent speaker on the topic of Biblical financial principles. Follow him on Twitter @chuckbentley and visit Crown.org for more help.

The Rushmore Report – The Border Wall: Dems Were for It Before They Were Against It

According to the media, the government shutdown is President Trump’s fault because he won’t give the Democrats what they want. Of course, if the Democrats would give Trump what he wants, the government would open tomorrow. And while Trump is back in Washington waiting to negotiate, Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi is vacationing in Hawaii. But the crazy thing is that these same Democrats were actually for the border wall – until they were against it.

The President’s new acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, was clear in an interview Friday. He blasted Democrats, including Senate leader Chuck Schumer, for supporting border security measures – including a wall – in 2006 and 2011, before abandoning the position when Trump took office.

Mulvaney said, “This is a crazy discussion to be having. It seems like Democrats really like border security when there’s a Democrat in office, and don’t like it when Donald Trump is in office.”

Still serving as White House budget director, Mulvaney said he believes Schumer is willing to come to an agreement on border security funds, but Pelosi is holding up a deal. He said Pelosi will soon face a vote on becoming Speaker of the House and she does not want to be seen as caving to Trump’s demands.

“Nancy Pelosi cannot be seen by her party as being weak on negotiating with Donald Trump. So we fully expect that until she’s elected Speaker and has locked that vote up, we won’t hear from the Democrats again. They told us last night that they were not countering our last offer,” he explained.

Mulvaney called on Democrats to come back to the negotiating table to see if a deal can be reached at a number between their $1.3 billion offer and Trump’s $5 billion demand.

So we have two issues here, both lost – as usual – on the mainstream media.

First, as Mulvaney points out, Democratic leaders are balking at the very thing they voted for twice already.

Second, although the Executive Branch (president), House of Representatives, and Senate are all in agreement on the border wall, it takes 60 Senate votes to pass legislation. That means eight Democratic senators must vote with the Republican majority in order for the bill to pass. So, essentially, eight Democrats are holding up a bill that has the support of the White House, House of Representatives, and the majority of the Senate. Still, according to the media, the president alone is responsible for the shutdown.

Until the majority caves to the minority, the majority will be seen as obstructionists. Only in Washington.

The Rushmore Report – Border Patrol Chief Speaks: ‘We Need a Wall’

Everyone has an opinion on the border wall. Democrats claim a wall won’t help secure the border – despite their own votes to the contrary in 2006 and 2011, not to mention the 100 percent success rate of the Israeli border wall. Republicans claim the wall will work. So who’s right? Enter Carla Provost, the Border Patrol Chief. In a recent interview on Fox News, she was clear. “We certainly do need a wall. Talk to any border agent and they will tell you that,” she said on “Your World.”

Provost said Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer, Bernie Sanders, and Nancy Pelosi are simply wrong when they contend that the border wall (a) will not work, and (b) will be a waste of tax payer money. She said the $5 billion appropriation has already been “prioritized” to locations where walls should be built along the 1,954-mile border with Mexico.

Provost didn’t stop there. She contends that more billions of dollars are needed to sufficiently secure the border, which would fund new “anti-dig” and other technologies with any new wall construction to further optimize border security. She said, “The president has been extremely supportive,” touting the fact that apprehensions are up 88 percent over last year.

The debate on the wall will continue. Unfortunately, leaders such as the Border Patrol Chief – whose opinions should matter most – will be largely ignored in the process.

The Rushmore Report – Billy Graham on New Year’s Resolutions

Known as “America’s Pastor,” Billy Graham remains the most significant Christian figure of the last 100 years. In December, 2011, already well into his 90s, Graham fielded a question about New Year’s resolutions. Following is that question and Dr. Graham’s response. As we enter a new year, his words are as timely and inspired today as they were when he wrote them seven years ago.

Question: I’ve about decided I’m not going to make any New Year’s resolutions this year. I’ve always done it, but I don’t think I’ve ever managed to keep a single one more than a few weeks. Why should I bother?

Answer: You’re right; it’s probably not worth bothering with resolutions if you start out assuming you’re going to fail, because that’s exactly what you’ll end up doing. But it doesn’t have to be this way, and I suggest you reconsider.

The start of a new year is a good time to stop and look at our lives, and that’s the first step in making any realistic resolutions. What needs to be improved in our lives? What needs to be eliminated or added? Most of all, what does God see when he looks at me, and what does he want me to do with his help? What is his will for the coming year, and for my life? The Bible says, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing” (Isaiah 43:18-19).

Then make sure your resolutions are realistic. Many New Year’s resolutions aren’t “resolutions” at all; they’re only vague dreams or wishes. Don’t focus on self-centered goals; focus instead on what God wants to do in your life. Above all, make sure of your commitment to Christ, and if it means little to you, why not begin the new year by giving your life to him?

Finally, think through how you can achieve the goals you’ve set. Pray for God’s help; plan what steps you need to take; get others to encourage and help you. May 2012 become the best year you’ve ever had, as you build your life on the foundation of Christ and his word.

The Rushmore Report – 2019 Predictions Sure to Go Wrong

Another year has passed and you know what that means. A new year is upon us. In this space, 365 days ago, I made several predictions for 2018. I’m not going to bother to review them. Let’s just assume I got ’em all right. But this is a time to look forward, not back. So here are a few predictions – some important (sports), some not (politics). But I’ll cover it all. Here we go . . .

1. Liberal Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will not retire in 2019. The 85-year-old jurist, who has recently suffered from cancer, a heart stent, and three broken ribs, will try to hang on until a Democrat is in the White House, so her replacement will share her liberal views.

2. Clarence Thomas, and possibly Samuel Alito, will announce surprise resignations from the High Court, in order to place their conservative seats in the hands of Trump appointees, who will be 20 years younger. Thomas (age 71) and Alito (age 69) could both serve for another ten years or more, but they will yield to pressure to step aside. At least one of them will.

3. The Democratic presidential field will start with enough candidates to fill a small stadium, but quickly fizzle to four: Joe Biden, Beto O’Rourke, Kamala Harris, and a player to be named later. (Biden will win the nomination, but that is 2020 fodder.)

4. Two Democratic candidates will fail early and surprisingly – Bernie Sanders and Cory Booker.

5. Hillary Clinton will not run for president. (Her hope is that no one will emerge from the huge field, and that the party will eventually turn to her as their Savior. This will not happen.)

6. Robert Mueller’s report will finally come out. It will not conclude there was Trump-Russian collusion, but will cite enough questionable activities by the president to raise the specter of impeachment among House Democrats.

7. The Democratic House will narrowly decide against impeaching the president, but the process will still keep Congress at a stalemate for much of the year.

8. The stock market will continue a wild ride, finishing flat for 2019.

9. President Trump will initiate a major withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.

10. The Golden State Warriors will beat whoever the Eastern Conference props up to be swept in four games.

11. The New Orleans Saints will defeat the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl, with Saints quarterback Drew Brees earning his second Super Bowl MVP award.

12. The Houston Astros will defeat the Chicago Cubs for the World Series in seven games. Fox’s television coverage will be dominated by extensive shots of Kate Upton (wife of Astros’ pitcher Justin Verlander) in the stands with intermittent images of baseball mixed in.

Cleaning Up the Mess

We used to have a cocker spaniel named Duffy. She was one happy mess. Every time a guest would come over to our house, she would lick them to death and then wet the floor. Duffy’s bladder was unable to control her joy.

We were always cleaning up after her. She slobbered horribly. When she would run or shake her head, slobber flew everywhere, and we’d clean it up.

But we loved her anyway. She was incredibly loving, loyal, and fun. And messy.

One day, due to a back problem that is common among Cockers, Duffy became paralyzed. She couldn’t walk or get to her food dish. We spent a king’s ransom on her back surgery, knowing it may not be successful. Then we just had to wait and see. We fed her by hand and carried her outside where she could at least enjoy the view.

One day, she began to move again, and she eventually recovered fully. But Duffy remained a mess. That was okay, because she was our mess. We loved that dog. We didn’t like the messes, but we were willing to clean them up because we loved Duffy more than we hated the mess.

The truth is, we are all a mess. You are a mess. But God loves you more than he hates your mess.

And as you enter the New Year, know this. God loves you enough to clean up after you.

Football and Church

Note the contrasts between the average football fan’s worship of a pigskin and the average Christian’s worship of God. Football fans pay a hefty sum to park their cars and walk a long distance to the stadium. The churchgoer expects free parking close to the building. Football contests are noisy with loud cheering and the enthusiasm of the fans. The churchgoer sits in grim silence, and objects to loud music. Football stadium seats are narrow, backless, and assigned. The churchgoer hates a hard pew and insists on a particular seat.

Football games always last well past three hours, and if they go into overtime, fans consider it a bonus. The churchgoer expects worship to take only an hour. If the service goes into overtime, the churchgoer displays great movements of agitation and frustration.

Actually, things don’t have to be that way. At my church, season tickets are free, and if you come early enough, you can sit in the same seat every week. Our seats are comfortable, the music is excellent, and the home team (Jesus) wins every time. And we try to keep it to an hour. By any measure, the best arena you will ever attend is the one down the street with the steeple.

With the new year dawning, find a place of worship. Thenew year starts on Sunday. Make it count.

Taste of Power

A first-grade boy was told by his mother to return home directly after school was dismissed, but he got home as much as 20 minutes late almost every day. His mother asked him, “You get out of school the same time every day. Why can’t you get home at the same time?”

He said, “It depends on the cars.”

“What do cars have to do with it?” his mother asked him.

The youngster explained, “The patrol boy who takes us across the street makes us wait until some cars come along so he can stop them.”

When I was in elementary school, I was a crossing guard for both of my fourth grade years. I loved the power. The whole universe would stop on my command. I felt in charge. I had the pole, the orange vest, and a whistle. And I knew how to use it.

It was a real rush, controlling when others could walk, drive, or stand still. But there was one problem. At the end of the day, I put my whistle back in the box and returned my snappy vest and pole. Then I had to walk home. And there was no one to help me.

I learned a hard lesson. It’s a lot easier to tell others how to walk than it is to get it right yourself. Maybe that’s why Jesus said, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned” (Luke 6:37).

The Birth of Jesus

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.