Self-improvement is a shared American Hobby. That’s why more than 40% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions.
Charles Lamb, a writer from the 18th century, said, “New Year’s Day is every man’s birthday, simply meaning that no matter what a mess we made of 2017, the New Year gives us another chance to get it right. We somehow believe, somehow hope, that we can turn over a new leaf, make a concerted effort, and finally accomplish our greatest desires.
We promise to lose weight, quit smoking, learn something new, eat healthier, read the Bible, get out of debt, spend more time with family, travel to new places, take things in stride, volunteer, and be kinder.
But in spite of all the good intentions, only a tiny fraction of us keeps our resolutions. It is estimated that just 8% of people achieve their New Year’s goals. How many New Year’s resolutions have you broken?
Why do so many people fail at keeping their New Year’s promises?
I believe that many times the goals we set are too magnanimous, too extreme, and often too vague dooming them to failure. Shooting for the moon can be so psychologically daunting, that we never get off the launching pad, and our intentions die before taking the first step.
The other night, when I couldn’t sleep, I turned on the TV. There was a man talking about New Year’s resolutions. He shared a formula that I believe might really work.
- Instead of making a vague promise, make a plan.
- Commit to your plan.
- Sacrifice whatever is necessary.
- Accept the consequences.
Losing weight is the number one New Year’s resolution, so let’s apply this formula to that goal.
Instead of saying I’m going to lose weight, make a plan—no potato chips, chocolate, or ice cream for six weeks. If this seems impossible, then you must ask, “Am I really serious about losing. What is your greatest temptation? Be specific.
Commit to your plan. No one can do it for you.
Will there be sacrifices? Of course! Will it be worth it? Of course!
Be honest about what you are doing. Years ago, when I joined Weight Watchers and lost a ton of weight, I prayed every day, “God, I’m doing everything I am told to do.”And that was absolutely true. I was serious about it. My prayer continued, “Please make my body respond as it should.”
No matter what your resolution or plan, you should be able, somehow, to measure the results. There will be good consequences.
Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a continuation of life with all the wisdom and understanding that our experiences have brought to us.
I must admit that I do not make New Year’s resolutions, but, on a daily basis, I do examine my heart and make life corrections according to God’s plan. For, in my relationship with God I do not have to wait until a new year begins to make a new beginning. With the rising of the sun, I can make a new start. Repentant for my failure, I latch on to God’s strength and take my next faltering step knowing that:
“Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23.
At the age of twenty, Jonathan Edwards, a great preacher of the first half of the eighteenth century, made a long list of resolutions concerning every area of his life and ministry. He reminded himself to reread his resolutions once each week, and he prayed this prayer.
“Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God’s help, I do humbly entreat Him by His grace to enable me to keep these resolutions, so far as they are agreeable with His will, for Christ’s sake.”
Jonathan Edward’s most impressive and important resolutions determined everything else he did the rest of his short life. He wrote:
“Resolution One—I will live for God. Resolution Two—If no one else does, I still will.”
Let us, you and I, make that same commitment for 2018 understanding that without God’s help we can do nothing of worth.
With that kind of commitment, you can write it in your heart that every day, not just New Year’s Day, is the best day in the year.
With warmest wishes, I pray for you that this will be a crowning year in your life—that you will know God better—love Him more dearly–walk closely with Him—serve him more sincerely, and enjoy His great blessing.
Remember, the sun will come out tomorrow!