Do you ever struggle with keeping your New Year’s Resolutions? Do you cringe at the very mention of the words? Does your heart rate spike when someone asks what your resolution will be this year, or how you are doing with maintaining it? Do you instantly slouch in shame at the thought of all the resolutions you were unable to keep?
I know I have felt that way far too many times! In fact, I’ve had years where I didn’t even get through January 2 without breaking the resolution!
While resolutions can be frustrating, the value behind New Year’s Resolutions is ultimately valid and even healthy. The basis is simply taking advantage of a new year to start a new habit or take on a challenge. It can be stopping something that was unhealthy in your life, or starting something you’ve needed or have been meaning to do for a while!
However, as you have probably experienced, the best of intentions does not always equate to a successful endeavor.
But resolutions don’t have to be an exercise in futility! In fact, resolutions can be springboards into new areas of health, personal challenge and growth.
It starts by approaching resolutions differently. Doing the same things the same way won’t get you anywhere different than where it always has. So while this isn’t an exhaustive list, here are 7 points to consider when you make a resolution. These might help bring a fresh approach:
1. Ask God first.
I’m not trying to be cliché. Start by simply taking 5 minutes to pray and think about what God might want you to focus on in your life.
2. Keep it simple.
Try keeping your challenge to short, manageable time periods. Also, write down what the challenge is, and put it in multiple places as a reminder. If you can’t keep each specific challenge or resolution to 1-2 sentences, it’s too complex!
3. Make it enjoyable.
Even if your resolution involves a strict broccoli only diet (which personally sounds like a sick form of torture), find ways to make it fun. Otherwise, sticking to it will be that much more difficult.
4. Start with what you want to do, not what you “have” to do.
Too many resolutions are birthed out of an attitude of shame or guilt, which is a foundation for guaranteed failure. This ties directly into points 1 and 3.
5. Pursue consistency, not perfection.
Start out knowing there will be days you miss or are less than perfect. Perfection isn’t the goal. The consistency over time and what that produces is your measure of success.
6. Celebrate victories.
Even if it’s a small step, celebrate it. You’ll have less energy to beat yourself up for the small goofs and failures if you are spending more of it on encouraging yourself for what you’ve done well. A series of victories is very motivating if you hit that moment when you feel ready to give up.
7. Re-evaluate regularly.
Don’t be afraid to change things or make adjustments midstream. The only way you can know if that’s needed is if you are able and willing to self assess and evaluate regularly.
In case you would like some alternative New Year’s Resolutions to get your brain moving, here are a couple of ideas:
The Daily Revolutionary
Jesus told his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross DAILY and follow me” (Luke 9:23 NIV). This is a simple yet profound approach to the personal challenge idea. It’s about recognizing that we can see change in and through our lives by taking things one step, and one day, at a time.
Instead of trying to accomplish some massive, radical, often unrealistic resolution, try approaching it from the day-to-day perspective. Ask yourself, what can I do today? Not this month, or year, but just today. It’s OK to know where you would like a series of days built up over time to ultimately lead. But don’t get so caught up in the big, high mountain top that you miss the impact, necessity, learning and joy that comes with each individual stop that leads you there!
It’s not really the big moments that define your life or your character. It’s the small, daily decisions built up over months, years and decades that define a legacy and determine character.
Try writing the statement “A Daily Revolutionary _______________” each morning. Then, fill in the blank with something different like “A Daily Revolutionary Forgives Unconditionally!” or “A Daily Revolutionary Persists in Patience!”
30 Days of Proof
If you feel as if you might have a handful of things you are challenged about and you think you need to do all of them, this might be a format for you. This approach provides a basic structure over a specified, attainable period of time. Instead of the goal being a specific outcome, the goal is to see proof at the end of the 30 days. It is to see evidence that these tasks were attempted consistently and because of it, there was development in certain areas of your life.
Here is an example I’ve used in the past to help keep it all balanced and organized:
- BIBLE: Pick a specific passage or topic in scripture to research. Work on a small, memorable amount each day.
- PRAYER: Create a list of 5 things that you want to pray for every day and 5 things that will rotate onto the list.
- MEDIA: This area can involve some specific challenges: books to read, a type of music to listen to, and/or even a type of media to refrain from during the 30 days.
- PERSONAL DIET/FITNESS: This is not meant to be a catchall, but if you are like me, your personal diet and fitness tends to have a very direct impact on many other areas of my life. This area can be everything from what to eat and what not to, or a varying list including diet and workout, cardio, etc.
- PERSONAL MINISTRY/SERVICE: Make this area about a person, ministry or way that I can serve and get involved in a special way.
So what is your redefined resolution going to be?
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