Bill Dodds

Bill Dodds

The family across the street from me runs a day care. So it’s not unusual to spot toddlers who still have some trouble toddling.

Oh, how they want to walk on their own but fall flat on their diapers in the attempt to take that first step or to take off wobbling. But there are no tears, for the most part, and from the looks on their faces, they have no inkling of what it’s like to quit, and they never make a decision to give up, no matter what obstacles they encounter. They just stand back up and take another step.

I’ve been thinking about that as we contemplate a new year. When the end of one year approaches, and the next one rolls around, there’s the annual talk of resolutions — to quit this or start that. We each have our regular pledges and promises that we make to others or to ourselves, and we each start with gusto and all-too-soon run out of gas.

Certainly it’s best to make some changes cold turkey and with professional help (stopping drug or alcohol abuse, for example), but other resolutions can be a matter of tapering off on a bad habit and building up a good one. You can choose to spend less time on Facebook, for example, and decide to spend more time praying.

Years ago when I had to have some physical therapy for a bum knee, I learned about the “10 percent rule.” It says that you should never increase an activity by more than 10 percent a week. That small addition is the safest and surest way to keep heading toward a goal without getting discouraged and giving up, and without injuring yourself by doing too much too soon.

Let’s say that in 2016, you want to set aside time every day for reading the Bible and private prayer. Begin with one minute, 60 seconds per day for the first week. Then, using the 10 percent rule, bump it up to 66 seconds the next week and so on. Over time, you’ll be reading Scripture and praying an hour a day.

The numbers don’t lie. Whether they refer to time or distance, if you begin an exercise program, walking only one-tenth of a mile a day, three days week, or praying, if you make the effort to increase beneficial activities, ultimately they can eclipse the bad ones and this will help you on a healthy and prosperous 2016.