How to make and keep Godly New Year’s Resolutions
I don’t know about you, but for me, January can sometimes feel overwhelming to step into. There can be a sudden flood of reflections from the past year. Some bring joy, but there are others that take some time to process and even contribute to the list of all the mistakes I don’t want to repeat in the New Year.
On top of all my own thoughts are the influx of emails, posts, and conversations about all the “new things” that we absolutely must buy or do to make the next year better. As a newlywed, 2022 already flooded my life with new things and I feel quite full to the brim with the amount of new that I can take in for 2023! Our fast-moving society with its latest trends and ideas adds pressure to what’s already on our plate and every January I face the challenge to sit down and figure out what God actually wants me to do in the coming year.
There are so many ‘good things’ we can do – new Bible plans, starting new books or devotionals, joining a new Bible study group, etc, and it can be very easy to start the year with an enormous list of how we want to grow spiritually this year. Figuring out how to fit everything in can get overwhelming which is why we are often exhausted and ready to give up by February.
So, here are a couple of tips I’m learning to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus, walk in His peace, and keep my New Year’s Resolutions!
PRAY: One of the verses that the Holy Spirit continues to bring to my mind each year, is Proverbs 16:9 – “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps." Write down all the things that you ‘could’ do this year, alongside any goals, dreams, and plans that are on your heart. And then take this list to the Lord and PRAY about what He wants you to do. Sometimes good things that we desire to do, aren’t in His plan for this year or this season.
A couple of years ago as a single, full-time student, I had no trouble fitting in both Young Adult leading and worship band weekly practices and I loved it! In 2022 however, planning a wedding and transitioning to full-time work meant that I had to re-evaluate what I could actually fit on my plate. After lots of prayer and conversation with trusted people, I decided to step down from worship to focus on Young Adult leading. And then, after more prayer and conversations recently, I changed back to worship band and joined our young marrieds’ community group at church because that fits my season for 2023.
Keep your lists and just take life one year at a time. Something you write down now might be something that God has for you in 2024 or even beyond! Be realistic about how many things you can actually do this year and leave the rest for another season. Setting achievable goals is essential for sustainable resolutions.
LISTEN: Getting a word and scripture for the year encourages and excites me, and centres my focus on Jesus. We may have a rough idea of the things that we will be doing, but God is the only one who knows everything that will happen in your life in 2023. So, after Christmas and in the early days of January, I spend a bit of time praying and LISTENING and asking God to give me a word and scripture for the coming year.
Last year, my word was ‘hope’ (Romans 15:13), and when God dropped that on my heart on January 2nd, I had no idea how much I was going to need to cling to that word and verse throughout the year. Looking back on the year, I see how God grew me in that area through the different challenges that came. Having a theme for your year can help steer you in a good direction of spiritual growth or remind you of reality to cling to in all the next year holds.
GROW: Set a growth plan for your goals. If your goal is to be doing an hour of quiet time a day but that seems overwhelming to you right now, then start with a 15-minute timer with the aim of moving that to 30 minutes within 3 months, 45 minutes by mid-year, and then you’ll be ready to hit 60 minutes by October. This can help us find that balance of being faithful to what we can do right now while we work towards where we’d like to be 12 months from now.
This January, take all your resolutions, plans, dreams, and goals and surrender them to the Lord and let Him establish your steps for 2023. You don’t need to be overwhelmed by all the things other people are doing. Seek Him first and He will lead you, equip you and strengthen you for everything He has for you in 2023.
Isabelle Cadzow lives with her husband in Melbourne, Australia. She graduated with a Master of Public Health in early 2022. She works full-time and has been actively serving her church in various capacities for many years. For more of Isabelle's writing check out: https://www.belle-1thes511.