How to make changes that last in the new year

Jacqui Hazel

Resolutions.

I don’t know about you, but I have never heard that word in conversation and had a neutral response. There is always a mashed sense of angst and dread with an occasional twist of hope thrown in from the optimist in the corner. And it’s no secret why: we all have our own horror stories of resolutions gone awry or guilt at repeating the same goal for six years in a row.

So maybe this year it’s time to take a different approach. Below, you’ll find three ways we set resolutions that don’t work, followed by two tips for setting new goals in the New Year.

Three Ways to Wreck Your Resolutions

1. Focus on yourself and your faults.

Every time I hear about resolutions, this seems to be the common starting point. People take stock of their lives and pick out everything they don’t like. What if, instead, we asked God what He wants to do with our lives? When we give our lives to Jesus, God begins to change us from the inside out and He's really good at it (Hebrews 8:10, Ezekiel 36:26). Rather than tackling everything you think should be different, try asking God to show one thing He wants you to start doing or stop doing this year. 

2. Compare yourself to everyone around you.

The second resolution wrecker is picking out parts of other people’s lives you wish were your own. We’ve all done it. That actor or actress you wish you resembled a bit more closely. That friend whose house is always suspiciously clean. That neighbor whose energy seems unending. 

It’s one thing to look at what other people and appreciate what makes them special, but we cross the line when we use those people as our new standard. You are the only you on Earth. God made you unique on purpose and for a purpose (Psalm 139). The apostle Paul says comparing ourselves with other people is “unwise” in 2 Corinthians 10:12. Resolutions built on someone else’s life, body, or characteristics are guaranteed to disappoint.

3. Try to fix everything by yourself, all at once.

Probably the biggest reason resolutions fail is because we try to change ourselves by sheer determination rather than operating in the Holy Spirit's power. Hating that extra 15 pounds isn’t very motivating when it’s time to get out of bed early and head to the gym, and wanting to “be a more positive person” is really not motivating when you have a flat tire in the rain. But Jesus' power comes into its own when we're at our weakest (2 Corinthians 12:9). 

When our motivation is centered on our own desires, we fall flat as soon as another in-the-moment desire trumps our goal. That’s why changing is so hard. It’s why we can’t change ourselves on our own.

How to Redeem Your Resolutions

1. Focus on what Jesus has done for you.

Instead of focusing on all of your faults, focus on what Jesus did for you. Make a list if you have to. He won’t mind! If you haven’t met Jesus or you’re struggling to understand how He can change your life, we'd love to help. Stop by the Care Room this Sunday or let us know how we can pray for you.

2. Make Jesus’ goals your goals.

In Colossians 3:2, Paul tells us to be more focused on God’s goals than our own. If that thought terrifies you, it shouldn’t! God tells us in Romans 8:29 that His ultimate goal for us is that our hearts and lives would look just like Jesus’.

Taking your next steps means setting goals that get you closer to Jesus every day. So whether you call it a New Year’s Resolution or your next step, what are you doing to get closer to Jesus today?

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