Change? Here Is A Simple Plan

Change - here is a simple plan!

Yesterday, my 82 year old Dad asked me about my goals for the new year. Then he told me of an area in his life he hopes to change in 2018. I have great respect for him that at his age, he still has personal plans for self-improvement! I hope I have that same mindset when I am in my 80’s.

What about you and I for this coming year?

You have probably heard it said:  “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”

That quote is supposedly from Benjamin Franklin, along with the following story.  At one point Benjamin became painfully aware that people didn’t like being around him. In fact, they would cross over to the other side of a muddy street to avoid him. Soon thereafter, he chose 13 characteristics about himself that he didn’t like and set out to change them. He chose one characteristic each week for 13 weeks to work on changing. At the end of the 13 weeks, he started over doing the same. No doubt, Benjamin’s plan for self-improvement, was the critical element in him becoming a better version of himself.

We have probably all made resolutions at the beginning of a new year–or any time during the year for that matter–that we haven’t kept. That doesn’t mean we should stop making efforts to change. Again remember Benjamin Franklin:  “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”

I am writing this blog post, because I have made a plan to do more writing this year. Without that plan, you would not be reading this.

Whatever you think about New Year’s Resolutions, let me encourage you to do this:

Pick one area of personal change–just one–to focus on. Then make a plan to bring about that change. That might involve learning about that area, telling one person or several about your plan, and asking them to encourage you to keep up the effort. It will no doubt take work and persistence. You will likely fail, more often than not especially at first. But if you don’t give up, and stick with your plan, your chances of seeing real change are very high.

Now, being a marriage and family counselor and coach, may I suggest a few change options to consider for those of you who are married?

First, reading or listening to a book together can be very helpful. One important element to bring about change in any area of life is to gain new insights from others.  Here are three books I am currently recommending:

The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, by John M. Gottman.  One reviewer said this about Gottman’s book:  “Read this book just when I was about to give up on my marriage. It turns out that there have been so many things I took for granted and this book helped me realize exactly what my husband and I have been doing right, what we’ve been doing wrong and what else we can do to strengthen the bond. This saved me from so much marital grief and frustration.”

Cherish: The One Word That Changes Everything for Your Marriage, by Gary Thomas. One reviewer said this:  “Whether you are a newlywed or married 20 years plus, this is a great book to spice up the romance & intimacy in your marriage. It’s funny how that works. As you begin to Cherish your spouse and honor them when they are present or not, they begin to change toward you. The smiles are more genuine and they feel truly LOVED and Cherished.”

The PLEDGE of a Lifetime: Her Hope For Connection. His Guide Through Conflict, by yours truly. Here’s what Traci B said about my book:  “I am excited to implement PLEDGEtalk in everyday conversation with my husband, and someday with our children, to create a home where people feel understood, validated, and genuinely loved.”

I also HIGHLY suggest you plan on attending a conference this year where you learn firsthand from others how to improve your marriage. I am a big believer in the weekend getaway marriage conference entitled:  A WEEKEND TO REMEMBER. You can find all the information you need about attending this HERE. There are many dates and locations throughout the year for couples to attend. Sign up using my code:  “madly in love” and my Name:  Mark Oelze to get $100 off the price. And for every five couples using my code, I get to send someone who can’t afford to go FREE! My wife and I attended this conference a couple years ago and really appreciated it!

Now I know that some of you are thinking: how do I get my spouse to agree to work on our marriage or attend a conference so that we might see real change? Ask him or her to call or email me and I will show them how to save $10,000 (plus) by working on your marriage! (Seriously!)

Zerrin and I celebrated our 36th wedding anniversary December 19th.

Check out our PLEDGEtalk Facebook page HERE to see what our kids gave us for our anniversary. We plan to be in this for as long as we both shall live. Over the course of our marriage, Zerrin and I have attended at least 10 different marriage conferences, read at least 30+ books on marriage, and have spent countless walks and talks working on our marriage. And I know there is still MORE to learn in order to change!

So two questions as we begin 2018: what area of your life are you going to focus on this year to change and become a better version of yourself? And what is your plan?

I’d love to hear from you below!

7 replies
  1. Christine Kremp
    Christine Kremp says:

    Thank you for writing this post. I started off this year saying “I am going to memorize 1 scripture a week for the year. While meditating on it I will write down what it means to me and how the Holy Spirit wants me to us it in my life and for others”. It sounded So good and I know it would enrich my life.. so why is it January 5th and I haven’t done more then just read and wonder what scripture to memorize? Then because I get destracted I don’t do it at all and am disappointed in myself. However, your blog this had breathed new energy into me so I execute this good plan God put on my heart to accompish. Thank you for being faithful and keeping up on writing to us. I am sharing my verse this week. Can’t wait to write about how it changes my perspective in life.
    Philipians 4:8
    Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

    • Mark
      Mark says:

      Thank you for sharing Christine! That’s a great plan to memorize one scripture a week and then do some reflecting and writing about it. I am convinced we don’t spend enough time contemplating over important truths in our life and therefore rarely see real change take place in us. Let me give you one more word of encouragement. You mentioned that it has already been five days into the first week and you did not memorize averse. When we make a plan and don’t fully or always execute it, we can get quite discouraged and give up. Weird how we do that and why, as if giving up is really going to do anything good for us. Instead why not simply get back up on the horse and ride again. Even if you ended up memorizing only 10 truths this year or, really even only the one you mentioned above how life-changing that would be! So keep at it, don’t be discouraged, when you fall off the horse get up and ride again. In so doing you will make this a much better year! Thanks again for sharing.

  2. Shannon
    Shannon says:

    Thanks, Mark! It’s a “God thing” that I just saw your email. I don’t look at email very often and it’s so cool that you said if you don’t plan, you plan to fail. That’s a confirmation today as Brent and I just discussed this aspect this morning and concluded we need to PLAN in order to succeed–especially in our communication times! We are going to implement your PLEDGEtalk. Prayers appreciated! God is faithful!

    • Mark
      Mark says:

      Yay Shannon! So glad you saw this. And it’s so true about planning. One of the reasons I am so passionate about teaching and training people to use PLEDGEtalk is that it is a plan. Very few people have a plan for what to do when they have a conflict and therefore they fail. When two parties have PLEDGEtalk in mind as a plan, and it is practiced almost like an escape route is practiced, when conflict occurs we know how to get out of it to a safe place and talk through whatever is necessary to come to a better place. I am excited you have recommitted to using PLEDGEtalk! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and Shannon.

  3. Lois
    Lois says:

    I love the book Cherish. To make a marriage work takes a lot of care and patience, and this book gives some great word pictures of how to do this. Cherishing means learning to hold someone dear, noticing and honoring each other, protecting each other, showing gratitude for each other and killing contempt. When I knows I am cherished by my husband, it brings out the best in me, and vice versa. The book also reminds me how important it is to show grace to my husband, as he does to me. “We ALL stumble in many things…” (James 3:2)

    • Mark
      Mark says:

      Thanks Lois for your feedback on the book Cherish! Gary Thomas is an amazing author, so right on every time. I love the reminder that if we Cherish our spouse we will “honor and protect each other showing gratitude for each other and killing contempt.” Contempt is such a destructive force in relationships in general and marriages in specific. And gratitude for whatever reasons we can find, big or small, is one of the greatest antidotes to our contempt towards others.


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