It’s Okay to Make Small Resolutions
Isn’t it comical that after weeks of eating, celebrating, spending, and giving we wearily look around and say, “OK, this has to stop!” It is a good thing we have a New Year to help us reign in the excessive attitudes of the holiday season. But we tend to take our resolutions and commitments to an extreme. We set lofty goals for ourselves, and our quiet time is no exception. “This year is the year! I am going to read the whole Bible, have quiet time every day, and memorize a verse a week!” Sure I am.
Ambitions and goals are good and even necessary to our lives. They can give us purpose and practical direction. Spiritual disciplines are how we grow as believers. But our goals can become discouraging when we don’t meet the expectations, we set for ourselves. Ambition will only get us so far. Often, we fill our January with lofty dreams and goals only to burn out by mid-February.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow has a wise quote, “Most people would succeed in small things if they were not so troubled with great ambitions.” In other words, sometimes our ambitions get in the way of our goals. When it comes to new year’s resolutions this is all too often true. We often focus on the results that we want, instead of the mundane disciplines that make up those big goals. A more practical way of achieving our resolutions can be done by creating small and simple changes that are measurable and doable.
A problem with small simple goals is that they seem too easy. “What happens when I achieve the goal?” Celebrate! Then set a new one! But also appreciate the value of mastering consistency in keeping our goals, not just attaining them. Just because we learn to achieve a goal doesn’t always mean we retain it. For example, we may have a goal to read the whole Bible. But at the end of the bible reading challenge, what did you gain from it? Did you learn from the experience? Or did you slog through looking to check off the box and say you did it?
Choose one or two goals to master well. Or maybe if you have your heart set on a larger goal, make that your priority, but divide it into smaller tasks This will make it more manageable and the goals we usually accomplish are the manageable ones!
Make goals that are similar or are smaller steps of a larger goal. If you want to memorize more Bible verses this year, pair them with your quiet or exercise time. Or if you want to learn more about gardening, pair researching about plants with a small garden to practice with.
Another way to keep your resolutions more manageable is to take a break. Decide a certain amount of time to intentionally practice your resolution, then plan a time frame that you intentionally take off. This helps you keep at your resolutions instead of burning out by going all in all at once.
Resolutions are personal goals to help us live purposeful lives. These hopes we plan for the year can be a way that we can implement convictions or practices that we believe God is showing and teaching us. Our yearly resolutions can be indicators of the state of our hearts, and what is most important to us. We can use these goals as an opportunity to grow closer to God and develop our spiritual life. Don’t lose sight of what God is doing through these resolutions in your heart and life. Let Longfellow’s words remind you that your faithfulness in the small things, is a grand ambition.
|Erica Hunt lives with her husband, Justin, in South Dakota. She teaches middle school and loves traveling, collecting quotes, learning fun facts and historical information, drinking coffee, eating ice cream, and enjoying good conversations with friends.