Q: With a new year upon us, I've once again made a long list of resolutions I intend to keep. As sincere as I am about achieving my goals and making some changes, I'm afraid they're doomed to fail as they did in 2015 -- and every year before. Do you have any advice?
Jim: I suspect many of us can empathize with your frustration. I could offer some tips, like focusing on just a few goals, making yourself accountable to someone, etc. But what I've discovered through my own failures is that often the problem is rooted in willpower that's insufficient for the particular thing I want to accomplish.
This concept may be easier to understand by realizing that the word "willpower" in Greek is often translated as "desire." It's the idea that we can achieve a goal when our desire matches our objective. But, too often, our desires are in direct conflict with our goals. And that's exactly the problem, isn't it?
Take weight loss, for example. I may wish to lose 20 pounds, but if what I truly desire is to eat ice cream every night, I soon find my willpower breaking down. The reality is our wishes are never strong enough to overcome our true desires for very long.
In these situations, I'd suggest the solution is to focus on the underlying needs that control our desires. For example, maybe we routinely overeat to anesthetize emotional pain. If we find healing for that inner struggle, the need to pacify our pain should dissipate.
If this is your situation, you may have to put in some work to get your true desires to align with your goals. Once that happens, your willpower can work for you, rather than against you.
Q: My son is big into video games. I have no qualms with him firing up the PlayStation and enjoying some screen time. But, in my opinion, he can be at it for way too long. Surprisingly, I've polled other parents only to find that their kids spend just as much time, if not more, gaming. What kind of limits would you recommend?
Bob Waliszewski, Director, Plugged-In: A few years ago, in an effort to get a better handle on some of the hottest video games, I made arrangements to hang out with a neighborhood kid who had a reputation as a major league gamer. As part of my research, I was curious to find out how much time he spent playing games and how attached he was to his gaming console.
I was amazed to learn that not only had he spent seven hours gaming the day before, but he'd been at it for another four prior to our meeting that day. Clearly fatigue wasn't a factor for him as he proceeded to put on a mind-bending demonstration of his skills and of the latest games. After two hours I left exhausted, but he showed no signs of letting up.
I was aware of the consuming nature of video games, but seeing it firsthand made an indelible impression. The experience left me with a deep conviction that no one should play video games as if it's their full-time job!
So what's the ideal amount of time for gaming? There's no universally accepted standard, but I'll share the parameters we set in our home. The rule was 30 minutes a day (reinforced with a timer) and an hour on weekends. Something in this timeframe should allow your child a chance to unwind a bit without the worry of fostering an addiction.
Jim Daly is a husband and father, an author, and president of Focus on the Family and host of the Focus on the Family radio program. Catch up with him at www.jimdalyblog.com or at www.facebook.com/DalyFocus.
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