December 29, 1992
Right about now, many folks are thinking about making resolutions. While we are inspired by the freshness of beginning a new year, some of us wonder if resolutions are important, considering that most of our good intentions will wither and fade before Valentine’s Day.
Is it foolish to add: “I resolve to keep my resolutions” or can something else rescue those January 1 commitments, at least until school starts or Halloween is over?
Simply evaluating possible reasons for previous failures might help. Were they too difficult or unrealistic? Did circumstances change unexpectedly? Did responsibilities increase? Or was it memory-lag?
No matter the pattern of failure, success can come by putting a corresponding twist in the resolution. For example, if goals seem sizeable or time-consuming, break them down into smaller chunks. In the last 30 months, I read over 60 books and completed 33 college courses. Looking back, it seems impossible, never mind how I felt about the size of the task at the beginning. Yet by dividing each course into daily assignments and each book into daily pages-to-read, I was able to reach my objectives.
Changes in circumstances may thwart goals too, so set some that do not depend on circumstances. Personal growth falls into this category. Resolve to become a better listener or to form a habit of expressing appreciation to family members, bank tellers, and sales clerks.
Nearly everyone has a problem with squeezed schedules and many are tempted to resolve to simply say “no” more often. We dislike it when we are making progress on one project and someone interrupts our agenda. Some very busy people tell me the best way to handle interruptions is by actually adding time for them in your schedule!
Another difficulty with resolutions is remembering what they are. The only way to overcome this is by keeping goals visible. My husband carries a DayTimer everywhere he goes. I also use one, along with post-it notes and occasionally make colorful wall charts. My husband and I compare and talk about our plans together and try to hold each other accountable, not only to remember our goals but to actually accomplish them.
Anyone who never bothers setting goals has no problem with reaching them, yet long-term goals are important. Setting them is even biblical. For example, Paul’s long-term goal was Christlikeness. He “pressed on toward the mark” by maintaining close fellowship with Christ. He considered each circumstance, even each interruption, as an opportunity to respond as Christ would and thus further realize his goal. Paul encourages us to follow his example because he followed the example of Jesus Christ.
Both Paul and Christ based their goals on the will of God and, because they were successful in accomplishing them, this is the most important strategy toward keeping resolutions. When we desire to do His will, we can depend on His help. He is able to “make us complete in every good work to DO His will, working in us what is well pleasing in His sight” (Hebrews 13:21).
I’m convinced this is the only way anyone can truly fulfil their goals so instead of aiming toward what I can do for myself in 1993, I am aiming toward what I can do to please God in 1993.
Happy New Year!