Ah, New Year’s Day.
Those Christmas parties are over. You and I have gained 10 pounds from all that pie.
But a little less exercise and a lot more sugar is totally fine – my New Year’s Resolution is to get in shape.
Cue March 1st: My goal is a distant memory lost in a sea of Valentine’s candy and some chips.
According to Statistic Brain, close to 45% of Americans make a New Year’s Resolution. Only 8% of those people succeed in reaching their goal!
So why do we keep making New Year’s Resolutions? And why do we keep failing to reach our goals?
We know that New Year’s Day is really no different than any other day. We could choose any time of the year to make a change in our lives.
But I think we choose New Year’s because we learn a lot about ourselves throughout the year – some things we like, and some we want to change. A new year can help us leave the baggage of the past behind as we search for a better future. It feels like a new beginning.
We put so much pressure on ourselves to change our whole lives in the span of a year.
So if we fail to reach our goal, it hurts even more than the last time. It feels like a wasted year with no growth. We feel hopeless to ever truly change.
Let’s look back at Jesus’ life, though.
Jesus didn’t use the same calendar that we do now. There was no New Year’s Resolution.
Yet, Luke 2 says that He grew in wisdom and stature. Jesus modeled for us a lifetime of growth through following God.
Paul had drastic changes in his life, too. He went from being a Pharisee who persecuted Christians, to a passionate follower of Christ. He writes in 2 Corinthians 5, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
He also says in Philippians 4 that we should “forget what lies behind,” and “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” After all that Paul had accomplished, he knew that the goal was still the same – to follow Jesus.
It’s clear that God wants us to grow and mature in our lives. But we don’t have to rely on our own strength to try to change ourselves. He doesn’t call us to make year-long goals we might not reach.
God instead calls us to make a lifelong resolution to follow Him.
- Define your goals. Instead of wanting to “get in shape,” you might say “go to the gym three times a week,” or “lose fifteen pounds by March.” Making a realistic, clearly-defined goal can be quantified and tracked over time.
- Write your goals somewhere you can see them every day. Keep track of your progress, too, so you can see how much you’ve accomplished throughout the year.
- Find someone to come alongside you in your goals through accountability. It makes a huge difference to know that someone else is there to support you in your goals.
- Make a budget of your time. This will give you a realistic picture of how much you’ll be able to do in a day, week, or month’s time. It’ll also help you see where you can trim back on time-killers like TV.
- Rather than plan out a year’s worth of progress, set smaller goals. You’ll eventually form consistency, which will help make bigger goals more feasible. Setting small goals can help get to also get you back on track if you start to fall behind on a goal.
- If you do start to slip on a goal, don’t beat yourself up! Remember that your value is rooted in Christ. He gives us the power to get back up and try again.