A More Specific and Effective Approach to “Resolutions”
January - the month marked by the promise of new beginnings. There is a contagious energy that flits through the air in January. Conversations turn from regular pleasantries, and even drudgeries, to being marked by hope. “Do you have any New Year’s resolutions?” I can’t count how many times I’ve had this conversation over the last two weeks.
Our society collectively welcomes the annual landmark of a new year as a chance to have a universal “restart”. Things somehow seem easier to start on January 1st than they did on November 16th. But come February 1st, the year moves on. As the months continue, I have personally been a victim of the “grand letdown” of my motivation, inspiration, and determination. What then, is the cause of the forgotten gym memberships? The abandoned weekly planners? The forfeited routines you swore you’d “finally keep up with this year”?
I think the common denominator isn’t only in our inconsistent follow-through but in the goals themselves. The way we select and subsequently frame our goals in our minds has a significant impact on our likeliness to complete them. As I’ve planned for 2023 and reflected on what has worked, and what hasn’t, in my past pursuit of goals, I’ve felt the Lord give me a few insights for making resolutions we are actually able to keep.
The first step is making resolutions from the correct heart posture. Goals set with the desire to take control of our lives, rather than submitting ourselves more fully to the Lord, will become idols. Rather, set your resolutions with open hands and hearts, committing your ways and your future to the Lord. In prayer, try asking God’s opinion on what goals you should be setting. Ask the Lord what He wants you to focus on in 2023.
Many plans are in a person’s heart, but the Lord’s decree will prevail. (Proverbs 19:21 CSB)
Year after year I have let extremes and ideals of perfection hinder the accomplishment of my resolutions. I set ambitious plans for drastic transformations and life-sized overhauls. This isn’t necessary. An essential element of actually keeping a resolution is setting a realistic one. It sounds obvious, but even so, I have been continually trapped in a cycle of diving in headfirst, be it by working out, reading my Bible consistently, or even just sticking to a nighttime routine. Here are some bite-sized ways to tackle the aforementioned resolutions in a realistic way:
- Instead of starting a five-day-a-week workout plan when you haven’t been to the gym in six months, try setting a goal of one workout class a week that you really enjoy.
- Rather than making a resolution of doing a one-hour quiet time every morning (although that is a wonderful thing to pursue!), try waking up or going to bed 15 minutes later and just reading through a chapter a night in any book you’d like.
- Before you attempt committing to a brand new 10-step skincare routine when you’ve found yourself consistently falling asleep while scrolling on your phone, try simply plugging in your phone to the living room instead of in your bedroom when you sleep.
This has been the biggest mindset shift for me as I’ve looked ahead to 2023. In the past, I’ve had no issues with setting overarching resolutions or goals. But the problem that I truly faced was implementation. My resolutions would more closely resemble vague intentions rather than goals because no specific plan was ever set in place to make it happen. If I want to “read my Bible every day”, then my true resolution would be to “set my alarm 15 minutes earlier and read before work each day”. If I want to “exercise more”, then my true resolution is “sign up for x-amount of workout classes a month”.
While it may sound obvious that this level of detail is necessary, it’s something that has evaded me for years. Just wanting to do something, or even to be something, isn’t enough. You have to have implementable steps in order to succeed.
While this might come across as harsh, the reality remains true: “In order to change something, you have to change something.” (Lynn Baber, Amazing Grays, Amazing Grace) Your old habits, rhythms, and patterns, even if they’re no longer desirable to you, are what will come most comfortably to you.
I, personally, hate getting ready for bed. I am a repeat culprit of falling asleep with contacts in and makeup on due to end-of-day tiredness. Initially, it was uncomfortable for me to will myself to do my skincare routine and get properly ready for bed. However (and this is still a work in progress), after months of forcing myself into more effort options of actually getting ready for bed, I’ve seen a huge improvement in my overall sleep health. Comfortability in a pattern or routine doesn’t mean it will serve to grow us and doesn’t mean it is honoring the Lord. Growth takes discomfort.
As always, remember Jesus in your resolution setting! You have a proud and loving heavenly Father who is cheering you on. God loves you perfectly and fully just as you were in 2022 and just as you will be in 2023.
|Arianna Li lives with her husband in Nashville, TN. She currently works as a teacher in a homeschool co-op, has a strong passion for community building, and is regularly involved in her church. Arianna can also be found hosting friends for dinner, baking for loved ones, and going on neighborhood walks.|