This is the transitional time of each year when we consider more seriously how we’re going to begin the New Year, and what we’d like to change in the days ahead.
I often hear frustration New Year’s resolutions don’t last much past the middle of February. Consequently people often give up before they begin and don’t even bother to set any kind of goal.
How can we have a different outcome in 2021?
One reason we fail is because we’re really thinking “a New Month’s Resolution.” The very expression New Year’s Resolution indicates it’s going to take at least the next 365 days, but the rapid onset of discouragement reveals we believed “it” would happen in 8 weeks or less.
When we haven’t achieved success in 6-8 weeks, we throw up our hands and walk away from what is often a very good, reasonable and achievable goal.
We fail because we expect something inherently “magical” to happen in the “fresh start” of a New Year. The truth is, January 1 is simply the next day in our life.
Successful change has to be re-chosen repeatedly each day, whether we start in January or July. Resolutions may be set in one day but are accomplished through thousands of choices and tiny steps that happen throughout the year: for example, refusing a candy bar daily for weeks until the craving passes away.
New Year’s resolutions are nothing more than a starting point for establishing new habits which produce life-long changes.
We fail, not because our goals aren’t good, but because our priorities and motives are out of alignment. If our priorities are arranged according to our culture, our basis for change is going to be: how we feel emotionally and physically, how we look and what other people think about us.
• What if instead, we were to make what God thinks about us the foundational motivation for each change we desire?
• What if we were to acknowledge that absorbing the Truth from God’s Word is the only power sufficient to make those changes?
I’ve been amazed in the past 20 years, as I have increased the time I spend taking in the Word of God, at how much less struggle is involved in making lifestyle changes — including eating habits, time choices, and attitudes.
We always have a part in the process when change is needed, but if a resolution is based simply on dissatisfaction with myself or my life experience; or if evaluation is done from a self-perspective, with the intention of selfimprovement based on self-discipline, we are doomed to failure from the beginning. Self-help and self-focus will never be enough to change us.
As we ask God for wisdom (James 1:5) about which changes He would have us pursue in 2021, and how He wants us to work toward them, spending more time with Him and receiving His power enables us to carry out the decisions that honor Him and are in agreement in His Word. This greatly increases the probability of success. It’s also helpful to ask a trusted friend to encourage us on the journey.
We must decide before we even begin, to use the inevitable short-term “failures” as motivation to continue. Remember, the Holy Spirit is our Partner. We are achieving the changes within Him.
Jesus declares (John 15:5), “I am the Vine; you are the branches. Whoever remains in Me and I in him, will bear much fruit. Apart from Me, you ca do nothing.” With Paul we can confidently say, “I can do everything through Christ Who pours His strength into me.” (Philippians 4:13).
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