How to set – and keep – New Year’s Resolutions. (Mama Mia!)

It’s almost 2016.  Cue the confetti.

Staples Easy Button

We’re already hearing a lot about making New Year’s resolutions.  We’ll see a lot of press on what our resolutions should be and how every company from Planet Fitness to Toyota will help us live out our dreams and attain that perfect life. Look, at my age, I am so inoculated to New Year’s resolutions that I don’t even think about them anymore. Furthermore, I’m one of those people who goes to sleep earlier than most kindergartners, so I can’t think of the last time I stayed up late enough to see the ball drop or celebrate the calendar turning from one year to the next.

But that doesn’t mean that the start of a new year should be completely overlooked by people like me – or by anyone for that matter.  New years are important to God.  And making better choices – no matter what time of year we choose to do it – is always a welcome decision in His Kingdom! I think the reason that most of us are jaded by making New Year’s resolutions is that we have built up quite a history of not following through on any of them in the past.  So what are we to do with our human weakness and lack of follow through? Should we bag the thought of leaping into 2016 with bright shiny ideals that will fizzle out like fireworks on the 4th? Or should we hold on tight to the thought that THIS YEAR will be different?  This year we will follow through!

I think that a middle ground is probably the best option.  I can only speak for myself, but I firmly feel that a year with no goals is like a journey with no destination.  You can’t use your Garmin without a destination to plug in.  And we can’t say we’ve arrived anywhere without setting some goals. But making them realistic, attainable and written down is going to be the key.  And maybe bringing someone on board as an accountability friend is the other key!

Two years ago, in January, I was in a major battle in my head.  I knew deep inside that I wasn’t accomplishing what I wanted and needed to in my spiritual and physical life.  I wasn’t exercising the way I wanted to and I wasn’t having the consistent time with the Lord every morning the way I knew I needed to.  For months I had wrestled with discouragement, knowing that the only way I would have success in both of these areas was to wake up earlier and THAT certainly wasn’t going to happen!  At this point, I was hitting my snooze twice before dragging myself out of bed at 6:15 a.m.

Then came my pivotal moment: I ran into a friend of mine at a get-together at the beginning of January.  She wakes up before roosters.  I don’t know how this topic came up – I should have known better than to broach this subject with her!  But as we talked, she told me that she would be willing to help me wake up at 4:30.  She told me how waking up early had changed her life and that she would be willing to text me in the morning to help me start the habit of waking up.  She only had to do it once.  From the second morning on, I have set my alarm and woken up all on my own! And like my friend, I would not change this habit for the world.  It truly has changed my life.  I start my day with a little more than one hour in the Word and in prayer and journaling and then still have 45-60 minutes to exercise before it’s time to get ready for work.

Your goals may be different.  And you don’t have to say that you will achieve the entire goal in 365 days.  Maybe your goal will be to start a habit, stop a habit or change a mindset.  Maybe your goal is measurable like a weight loss number or marathon you might train for.  Maybe it’s not measurable by sight, like taming your tongue, being less irritable, or arriving to places on time.

No matter what our goals are, we will not be able to achieve them on our own.  Our failures come when we rely on our strength to carry us over the finish line.  The reason we poop out on our resolutions is that we didn’t set reasonable goals and we didn’t continue to ask the Lord to help us and send people into our lives to support us. We launched out on our own, by ourselves, with no accountability, no written record of our direction and no prayer under-girding.

This year WILL be different.  We’re the same lazy-ish people who want everything to come with a Staples® Easy Button™. But this time we can invite God into our goals.  Below is one of the best Scriptures about hearing from God for your life and recording what you “see” so that you can run with it.

Habakkuk 2:2,3

2-3 And then God answered: “Write this.
    Write what you see.
Write it out in big block letters
    so that it can be read on the run.
This vision-message is a witness
    pointing to what’s coming.
It aches for the coming—it can hardly wait!
    And it doesn’t lie.
If it seems slow in coming, wait.
    It’s on its way. It will come right on time.

 

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