Statistics show that by January 15th, 95% of people who made New Year’s resolutions have already broken them. As if that weren’t discouraging enough, now that we are several days past January 15th, I have a feeling that number has creeped up closer to 100%.
Perhaps you can relate. Maybe you, like many of us, spent the week between Christmas and New Year’s excitedly dreaming up your resolutions and goals for 2019, just sure that this would be the year you would finally stick to them. Only now you’re finding that, once again, at least some of the resolutions you made have become nothing more than a statistic.
It could be easy to grow despondent and begin to despair over this, feeling like you’ll never get it together and always lack what it takes to make positive changes in your life. Well, the truth is, you may be onto something there.
Walk by the Spirit.
The mistake so many of us make which sets us up for failure in the resolutions department is that we rush ahead of God when brainstorming our goals and resolutions for the new year. We don’t bother to take into consideration His wisdom, guidance, and direction, choosing instead to rely on our own dreams, abilities, and desires. Inevitably, this means we fail to take into consideration important factors such as our current season of life and precisely how we would be able to live out particular resolutions.
Consequently, we find it incredibly difficult to live out our resolutions because they were based on our own “wisdom” rather than God’s big-picture plan for our lives, our own dreams as opposed to His, and our own efforts as opposed to leaning on the support of our Helper.
Get a firm “why”.
Another mistake we make is failing to have a firm, important, and clear “why” behind the resolution we are making. If our resolutions are incredibly generic and we just chose those particular ones because we thought we were “supposed to” or they were what “everyone” was doing, then we haven’t made our resolutions our own, basing them on a “why” that is important to us. When we are careful to actually know the “why” behind the resolutions we make, that “why” is what is going to go a long way towards inspiring us to stick to our resolutions.
Set yourself up for success
We set ourselves up for failure when we make resolutions that are either too general, too challenging, or simply too numerous to worry about all at once.
If we want to set ourselves up for success, the way to do it is not to make twenty resolutions that we somehow think we are going to live out perfectly from day one. This is too much to handle all at once, and the lasting change we’re looking for simply won’t happen when we allow ourselves to get overwhelmed. Additionally, if our resolutions are ill-fitting to the season of life we are in or if they are too generalized rather than specific, we will find it hard to follow through on them.
What we need to do instead is make them actionable, with bite-sized steps, tips, and tricks included in our thought process which will make it easier for us to meet our goals and follow through on our resolutions. There are several ways we can do this, including even perhaps changing course if we find that the resolutions we made weren’t the right ones for us after all. Another tip would be to consider making only one new resolution per month in order to zero in on each one and give each the twenty-one days it requires to make something into a habit. This brings me to my next point,
Remember there’s nothing special about January 1.
We often have this mistaken idea that all of our resolutions must be made and lived out beginning on January 1st or else they don’t count. But, friend, I’m here to tell you there is actually nothing magical about January 1st. The sooner we understand that, the sooner we will be able to set ourselves up for positive change in our lives. The worst thing we can do is see that we have “failed” in our resolutions by January 15th and decide to throw in the towel. If we do that, we are missing out on all the change that could be made in our lives during the remaining 350 days of the year. Talk about wasted time!
Remember your identity.
I’ve been careful to put the words “fail” and “failed” in quotations when talking about resolutions, because there is something really important for us to remember here. If we believe the good news of the gospel, then we know that we haven’t “failed” at all when we don’t carry out a particular resolution as we wanted to. We have the righteousness of Christ as our own, meaning that we are fully accepted in the eyes of the Father, and He never looks at us as failures.
Your worth and your identity are not based on whether or not you manage to live out all of your resolutions this year. Not at all. Rather, your identity and your worth are based squarely and securely in the firm foundation of who you are in Christ – and nothing can change that!
Again, walk by the Spirit!
As we purpose to live our lives with intention in 2019, we see that everything comes full circle – just as we need to begin the planning of our resolutions with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, so, too, we need to rely on the help of the Spirit in order to live them out. Making resolutions isn’t about pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps and relying on our own strength to make things happen. It’s about relying on the help and strength of God to see us through and to do through us what we cannot accomplish on our own.