A New Look at New Year’s Resolutions


According to Statistic Brain, over 45% of American’s make New Year’s Resolutions.

Are you one of them?  And if you are, what are some of your resolutions?

Two years ago I made three resolutions.

  • Read more.
  • Have a cultural dinner/experience once a month.
  • Run a 1/2 Marathon.

I made it until May before I missed a month of international cuisine.  {not bad, not bad}.  I sprained my ankle (a grade-3 horrible sprain) while training for a 1/2, and then endured 6 months of PT.  Needless to say, I didn’t run any race that year.  And I don’t think I read any more than I normally do.

The top 10 New Years Resolutions of 2014 are:

Rank Top 10 New Years resolutions for 2014
Lose Weight
Getting Organized
Spend Less, Save More
Enjoy Life to the Fullest
Staying Fit and Healthy
Learn Something Exciting
Quit Smoking
Help Others in Their Dreams
Fall in Love
Spend More Time with Family

Jessica Lamb-Shapiro at Time Magazine says in an article called “Why New Year’s Resolutions are Bad for You” that only 8 percent of people who set New Year’s Resolutions actually follow through with them.  Are you surprised?

This year, I’m not setting any resolutions.  I suppose I’ve come to see things a little differently.

It’s not that I’m not for re-evaluation and setting goals.  I am.  In fact, I’ve read that if you write down your goals, you are more likely to fulfill them.  Because of that, I take a ‘dream day’ each January where I reflect, pray, confess, and journal with God about the upcoming new year.  I get really honest with God about where things are at, where things have been, what I wish, what I want, where I’m afraid, and where I need Him to make a way.  I write down the dreams and goals God brings to mind, and I commit the year ahead to Him.

As you set goals for the New Year, here are a few things to keep in mind …

Lasting change will not happen if we try to achieve or accomplish our resolutions on our own strength.  In our own strength we can accomplish a whole heck of a lot.  Many of us have strong desires, convictions, and we are so very determined (at the get go) to make a change.  However, when push comes to shove, most of us do not have the willpower to sustain our choices on our own.  If we are trying to quit drinking, quit smoking, lose weight, spend less money, we can reward ourselves, hold ourselves accountable, and stay dedicated for quite some time in our own strength.  But eventually, if we do not look at some of the reasons why we drink, smoke, over eat, over spend, and start trying to address that gaping hole in us, that thing we are trying to fill with other things, our willpower will only last so long.  Lasting change will only happen if we are plugged into a Source that is stronger than our will.  

Also, for the year ahead, we must be in submission to what God wants to change when He wants to change it.  But how does a person know what God wants him to change, and when He wants him to change it if he does not ask God?   John 15 tells us that apart from God, we can do nothing.  I think many Christians believe this is true, but, for example, if someone sets a resolution, “this is the year I am going to get my book published” or “this is the year I am going to fall in love” he might be sorely disappointed if this is not the year God has ordained his book to find a publisher or his soul to find a lifelong companion.  Sure, he could force finding a publisher — self-publish, even, or shift his message to make it more desirable to a publisher.  He could also go out and marry the first female he dates in 2014.  Of course, he shouldn’t be idle.  But there must be within us a submission and understanding that God’s timing is not always our timing, and God just might want to work out in us some big characterological ‘thing’ for our own good when we would rather ‘not go there.’  {cough, cough — I’m not speaking from experience or anything …}

Before we get all ‘dreamy’ about what we wish this year would entail, perhaps we should reflect and look back on how God is currently at work in our life, and join Him in what He is doing.  Earlier this year one of my children was going through a terrible struggle of anxiety, tantrums, and rage.  There were moments, literally, where I thought I was losing my family.  As I look toward 2014 and how God might be working in the trajectory of my life, I can’t help but invite into play all the lessons (both beautiful and hard) I learned through our challenges {still} with our son.  I can’t help but see all the lovely mothers I’ve become friends with who also struggle, mothers I would have never met otherwise, and the encouragement ministry that seems to be growing out of that painful time.  I look toward next year, toward writing, my seminary studies at Talbot in spiritual formation, and I seek the Lord: “God I see you are growing me through this tough season — you’re revealing to me my anxious heart, my mother fears, my complete inadequacy {I don’t have any answers}, and you’re showing me there is a world of mothers also struggling like me.  How might I walk boldly forward in 2014 in what I’m learning and be willing to share it with others?”  My point is, we learn a lot about the future by looking at the past.  If this past year was a year of financial hardship, of learning to forgive someone who offended you, of career uncertainty, of separation or divorce, and God is at work in you as you’ve grown, grieved, and surrendered, then maybe there is a 2014 goal for you going forward based on what happened in the past {or is still happening to you now}.

Finally, let us remember the real reason for change.  Oh my dear friends — this is something that is rocking my world right now as I confront my over-achieving, task-driven, success-oriented, ROI brained self.  I want results — actual visible, noticeable, I’m-going-to-give-you-affirmation, you-are-working-so-hard-and-I-see-it-and-I-will-reward-you-with-good-things, you-now-fit-into-your-size 6-jeans, you-tripled-your-blog-stats, you-got-an-A-on-your-final, you-no-longer-struggle-with-lust, you-have-forgiven-the-unforgiveable, you-are-now-the-most-patient-mommy-in-the-universe, you-no-longer-care-about-the-opinions-of-others, big, big, big {wholly unrealistic} results.  Oh gosh how long I have suffered (and I mean, literally suffered) guilt for repeatedly failing, struggling, and messing up over and over and over again in certain ways.  Eventually I start to ask, “Am I ALWAYS going to be this way?  I just want it to be DONE with!”  But this is the results-oriented self talking!  Have you no grace for yourself?  Does the goal of your living include allowing yourself to be in process?   Because you are.  In process.  Always, always working through your salvation until you one day meet your Maker.  Change is SLOW, and it doesn’t happen in 365 days.  It is work.  When you flub up and the guilt bubbles over, say sorry and remind yourself this is a rich, rewarding journey fraught with highs and lows, and you are in need of a Savior like every other goober on the planet.

He holds 2014 in His hands.

1 comment

  1. Your last point about over achieving and wanting results really resonated with me! I just wrote about something similar – my life too easily revolves around achieving things, and I am realizing it also has become my way of trying to impress God (LOL – as if God would be impressed with ME!). Thanks for the reinforcement that I just need to let Him work in my life, rather than trying to do it myself. FYI – my post on this topic is at http://dianagleaton.com/2013/12/18/how-do-you-rate . Hope you enjoy 🙂

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