Hard as Nails Ministries
 BILLT Different: What the Buffalo Bills Taught Me About My New Year’s Resolutions

BILLT Different: What the Buffalo Bills Taught Me About My New Year’s Resolutions

By:  Julia Sweet January 19, 2021
#AmazingNation, #Live, #Trust, #Winning, #Wisdom

Two weeks into the new year, many people have already lost hope in the idea of a fresh start. Often, the beginning of a new year is pregnant with anticipation of a better, brighter future; an opportunity to change our lives. This year, the promise of change for the better is what many people are needing. However, things do not turn on a dime when the clock strikes midnight on January first. A common deflation comes from judging the new year by what has happened (or not happened) right away. Instead of looking for immediate results, we must imagine the potential transformation that can come from building a strong foundation for change.

As a dedicated Buffalo Bills fan my entire life, I have had my share of disappointments most September-Decembers I can remember. I usually start the regular season with sky high hopes and a belief that this is our year! But through the years, we have had star players come and go, and more coaches and starting quarterbacks than can be counted on two hands with little to no success. It wasn’t until recently that the thought of football in January was actually within our reach. This year, January football isn’t even the goal – the possibility of the Bills making it to the Superbowl February 7th, is a (shocking) possibility.

How did we get here? 1995 was the last time the Buffalo Bills won a play-off game and starting in 1999 they had a 17-year post-season drought. Being born in the early 90s, disappointing seasons were all I knew. One’s entire life is a long time to root for a losing team. But in 2016 something significant happened. The team hired a new head coach – Sean McDermott.

From his early days, McDermott recited his mantra “Trust the process” while building his team. Right away, he began to turn over the entire roster by clearing out, obtaining players in free agency, and strategically drafting to the tune of his process. It was slow and deliberate, and some decisions made people question his vision. Though the Bills made an “accidental” play-off run his first year, he did not believe that was the team Buffalo wanted or needed. Instead of pushing something that seemed to be working at that moment, he traded away the quarterback that got us into the play-offs and built the team from the ground up. The whole time he never took his eyes off of the real target – deep, dedicated, sustainable success built on hard work and the right players. For the next 2 years, the Bills were a mediocre team who, on the outside, didn’t seem to be making much progress. On the inside however, there was profound work happening and a foundation being poured. Though he was criticized by many, McDermott never strayed, questioned, or backtracked his carefully calculated moves. Trust the process.

Here we are, 2021 and any Bills fan you talk to will tell you that they now trust the process. 4 seasons later, Coach McDermott’s team is different. They are heading into the divisional round of the play offs, for the first time in 25 years, with a quarterback who is in the running for MVP and whose own name is in the ring for coach of the year. Trust the process.

There are many parallels we can draw between this coach’s dedication to building a strong foundation for long term success and our lives. Whether our goals this year are to improve our physical or mental health, dive deeper into our relationship with God, or achieve a major dream, we must approach them differently.

Usually, I begin a new year by jumping in with both feet, holding a list of life-changing behaviors, and a full head of steam. But when I land, I realize sustaining change in my life is a lot harder than a single surge of motivation. Chasing immediate results gets me just that - a quick rush of gratification without a base to support it. By the end of the year, I find myself in the same place I was at the start. This year I am focusing on clearing out old habits, temptations, and even good priorities to make room for the building blocks of something better. Only then can I start to layer with new behaviors and commitment to more important priorities, that will help me reach my goals long-term. These changes will be small and attainable at first and need to be met with hard work and dedication. I know I won’t see results right away, and that’s ok because I trust the process.

Regardless of how the season ends for McDermott’s Bills, they are a team quite different from any Buffalo has had in the past. They have a solid foundation and are set up for being competitive long-term, because of the unique way they were built. Similarly, if I want my year to be different from all the rest, I cannot chase immediate results. I need to set the foundation firmly knowing it will take patience and trust in the process. Next January first, if I want to be different, I need to be BILLT different.

Photo Credits:
"Finger Guns" by Astro Guy is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons https://unsplash.com/photos/FqMqP_xaYzs

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