I used to be firmly in the camp of refusing to even make resolutions, because I knew I had TWO chances of seeing them accomplished--slim, and none. But, as I once told a friend, I resolved one year to quit making resolutions, and I failed at that one too.
The truth is, most of us, even if we refuse to "make" new year's resolutions in any formal sense, make them secretly in our head anyway. We just don't want to voice them--we think if we don't say them out loud, or write them down, then it won't seem so bad when we fail to actually do them.
Over the past few years though, I've changed my mind about resolutions. I think they are, in fact, necessary, and the New Year is a perfect time to make them. The problem, I think, is in the word "resolution." We dread the ultimate failure that seems to already linger in the air as we pronounce the word...so, perhaps "goal" would be a better term to use.
Now, we all know that if we have no goals, we will never achieve much at all...by setting goals, I challenge myself to keep moving, keep trying. I may not "achieve" the goal, but at least I'll achieve something!
I make "to do" lists at work, pretty much every week...these are really "goals" as well--what I intend to get accomplished that week. I don't actually remember the last time I ever managed to actually DO half of what's on that list, but can you imagine how long my job would last if I just quit trying, because I know I'm not going to make it?
So, making goals gives us something to shoot for--and the New Year is a great time to "re-evaluate"--set new goals, reorder some, drop some, whatever we need to do. Why? Because the New Year gives us that sense of a "fresh start," a clean slate. See, it really doesn't matter whether we accomplished last year's resolutions...it matters that we have set our sights on something to achieve now.
But--here's the important thing, to me anyway. The New Year shouldn't be the only time we make these goals, or evaluate them. I think the major reason we fail at some of our resolutions is because we make them, then we set them aside for another year.
Well, good grief!! No wonder we fail at them. Can you imagine a teacher looking at the curriculum for the grade she teaches at the beginning of the year, "committing" or "resolving" to teach everything...but then never looking at it again, never reviewing her lesson plans against the curriculum, until the end of the year? I'd hate to see her students' test scores!! The fact is, she may or may not get everything covered as thoroughly as she'd like, but she'll do a whole lot better by staying focused on the goal, than by looking at it once and then forgetting about it. Make it at least a monthly habit, even weekly, to pull out your list and re-evaluate: Am I getting this done? Do I still WANT to do it? Is there something I can do to get it done better/faster/differently?
Just as God gives us a clean slate EVERY time we come to Him and ask forgiveness when we fail, so we can start with a clean slate over and over, throughout the year, as we attempt to achieve the "to do" list for our lives.
So, go ahead...don't just MAKE the resolution/goal--resolve to remind yourself of it, often, and to keep trying every time you fail. And most important--make sure that you pray FIRST and ask God what His Goals are for you this coming year!
My resolutions? Well, some are personal and not to be shared on such a public forum...but there are a few that I will be bold enough to post here for all the world to see (or, at least the portion of the world that will read this, which I recognize is substantially less than "all the world."):
--to get the speaking ministry God has put on my heart started in earnest.
--to spend more time in prayer & in real Bible study (i.e. studying the Bible, not just participating in book studies) Note: I've quantified this for myself, but no point sharing that here--in other words, don't just say I'll do this more, but "how much more?"
--to try at least one thing I haven't ever done before (I'd better be careful here...THIS is how I ended up in a choir when I can't sing!)
Mostly, I am resolved to become more fervent about my walk with Christ--to submit more and more to Him and less and less to the world. In the words of the hymn that keeps buzzing around my head these past several days (and yes, I know I skipped a couple of verses):
I am resolved no longer to linger,
Charmed by the world’s delight,
Things that are higher, things that are nobler,
These have allured my sight.
- I will hasten to Him,
Hasten so glad and free;
Jesus, greatest, highest,
I will come to Thee.
I am resolved to enter the kingdom
Leaving the paths of sin;
Friends may oppose me, foes may beset me,
Still will I enter in.
I am resolved, and who will go with me?
Come, friends, without delay,
Taught by the Bible, led by the Spirit,
We’ll walk the heav’nly way.
Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I will press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.