For many people, the start of a new year brings much more than just the change of a digit or two, as it inspires many to take initiative, set goals and look to the future with a hope in the potential for significant lifestyle changes.
For students in particular, that hope often comes in the form of the clean slate of a new semester, bringing a chance for better classes and grades, and better sleep schedules and eating habits. On the Harding campus, students are not the only ones setting goals for improvement. President Bruce McLarty is no stranger to new year’s resolutions.
“I love them, and I find them incredibly helpful,” Bruce McLarty said.
Last year, Bruce McLarty resolved to strengthen family ties by eating breakfast once a week with his younger brother Karl McLarty, professor of Bible.
“We could go three weeks and not see each other. And I thought ‘this has got to change,’ and so I just made the plan and made the resolution,” Bruce McLarty said. “He was on board with it, and so we meet at seven o’clock every Friday morning.”
Bruce McLarty said that his time spent reconnecting with his brother in a local Searcy restaurant has been a particularly valuable experience, and one that will affect his life going forward.
“It was a wonderfully concrete resolution that was successful this year, and it’s just a part of the rhythm of my life now, and it’s just rolled over into this year,” Bruce McLarty said. “It’s not a resolution anymore, it’s just a habit. It’s a lifestyle and a habit and it’s been incredibly rewarding.”
In past years, Bruce McLarty and his wife have read through the Bible together using a one year Bible the couple purchased in 1988. For Bruce McLarty, that Bible in particular has been a physical symbol of achieved goals.
“One of my favorite things is that each year that we’ve read that copy, we’ve written in there that we’ve read through that one,” Bruce McLarty said. “I think this was the fifth time that we’ve used that copy since ’88.”
For this new year, Bruce McLarty will again include Bible reading in his resolutions, but will focus on reading a single New Testament chapter a day. In addition to a lifestyle of familial connectedness and spiritual vitality, Bruce McLarty has resolved to implement habits of physical vitality into his routine as well.
“My primary goals this year are physical. When we got back from the New Year’s break, they were very concrete: no desserts, no sodas and no eating after supper,” Bruce McLarty said. “Those are my big three. My Achilles’ heel is eating after supper. And my wife and I resolved that we’re going to walk 30 minutes five nights a week.”
Bruce McLarty is aware of the difficulties associated with staying focused and motivated to keep resolutions, and emphasized the importance of accountability and specificity in setting goals that lead to lasting change.
“They need to be reasonable goals. We can become discouraged very easily along the way,” Bruce McLarty said. “Breakfast with my brother was such a specific, concrete goal. I don’t know that it was easy in the beginning, because it was getting up a little early and making sure something is in my calendar, but it was a meaningful goal. That was not painful in any way. It’s something that I have looked forward to all this past year. But it was concrete. It wasn’t just ‘eat breakfast with your brother more often’ it was ‘eat breakfast with your brother on Friday morning.'”
This new year, you will be able to quiz President Bruce McLarty on his New Testament knowledge, spot him at a local restaurant with his brother, offer him encouragement as he walks the track in the GAC, or, if you’re feeling aspirational, you can follow his lead with a goal of your own.