Like most people, I made New Year’s resolutions for decades. Some of them lasted until April, and some of them . . . well, would you believe some ended January 2? Even with good intentions, the resolutions or promises we make to ourselves often disappear like wind-blown dandelion seeds.
Do these resolutions sound familiar?
- Stop eating sugar.
- Exercise daily.
- Complete home projects.
- Volunteer to help others.
- Memorize Bible verses.
All worthy objectives, right? Sure. There’s not a bad intention on the list. Then why don’t we achieve them? I can only speak for myself.
3 Reasons Why I Failed at New Year’s Resolutions
Although I prayed for guidance, I often depended on my own strength and wisdom to achieve success. The energy of those power sources weakens quickly.
A few years ago, I decided to set annual and monthly goals after praying and asking God to reveal His plan for me. I now read books about planning and spend time reading my Bible daily. When I pray and trust God to lead me as I study His Word, I have His strength and wisdom.
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
–Psalm 32:8 ESV
A second problem I faced with resolutions was embracing too many goals and projects at once. I attempted too many “good things.” The lack of results brought frustration and fatigue.
God calls each born-again believer to love Him, to love others, to witness, to be kind, to help the poor, and to follow other Scriptural instructions. He also created us with unique gifts for His glory. Prayer, study, and conversations with trusted Christian friends can help us determine our gifts and the tasks we should accept or decline.
Eric Liddell, the famous runner whose story is told in the movie Chariots of Fire, said, “God made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure.” 1 This 1924 Olympic gold medal winner knew how to focus on the call of God rather than that of men and thus refused to run on Sunday. His goals not only included winning numerous races, but he served God faithfully for many years in China. (The Final Race by Eric T. Eichinger, with Eva Marie Everson, tells the amazing story of this famous man of faith. See link below.)
I want to focus on God’s call for me as Eric Liddell did. I know that God called me to be a wife, mother, and Gigi to my grandchildren. He also called me to write and to participate in two ministries to small groups of women. When I accept too many responsibilities beyond these, I revert to fatigue and frustration.
The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.
–Proverbs 16:9 ESV
Another problem with my resolutions was lack of clear goals.
Specific, measurable goals provide targets and the hope of hitting them. Large projects and goals can be divided into bite-sized pieces and specifically stated. For example:
- By 5:00 each Friday, file important paperwork.
- Organize linen closet by January 15 and donate unneeded items.
- Work out for 45 minutes at the gym Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Take a 30 minute walk each Saturday.
- Memorize one verse or short passage of Scripture per week.
These goals are specific and measurable, as well as easier to manage. (For more information, see the link below to Your Best Year Ever by Michal Hyatt.) Writing out your goals and checking on progress periodically are helpful practices. Seeking God’s guidance is powerful.
Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.
–Proverbs 16:3 ESV
Tips for Goal Setting and Time Usage
- Seek God in morning prayer as Jesus did. Read a devotional, read Scripture, and pray. I refer to this time as my “morning appointment with God.”
- Hold your plans loosely. Interruptions may be divinely appointed.
- Plan “catch-up” times in each week as you will surely need them.
- Commit to the Lord whatever you do. Talk to Him as you complete each task.
- Remember that people are more important than tasks.
- List tasks for the week and then each night select the ones that must or could be done the following day.
Are you thinking I have it all together and merrily check off my to-do list each day? No way! Not even close! Some days I become frustrated, pitch a little “hissy fit” with myself, and feel like abandoning my goals. There are days when I feel like I haven’t accomplished anything at all. However, I’m learning and improving as I practice trusting God for results.
My January Advice
Don’t set New Year’s resolutions. Instead, ask God to guide you as you set reasonable goals you were designed to meet. See links for books I like.
Please share in the comment sections at the bottom how you set goals and organize your to-do list. I’d love to gather new ideas from reader friends.
Resources I Recommend for a Brand-New Year
(Click on a book cover below.)
Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. If you decide to purchase a book via my link, I’ll receive a small commission (at no additional cost to you) which will assist with blog costs. Clicking on the link will simply take you to Amazon so that you can read about the book.
An Interesting Read
This World War II era biography tells the story of Eric Liddell, the 1942 Olympic gold medalist runner, whose story was featured in the movie Chariots of Fire. Authors Eric T. Eichinger and Eva Marie Everson go beyond Olympic fame to reveal Liddell’s life of service to God in the face of trials.
Goal Setting, Planning, Time Use
Michael Hyatt, an expert on goal setting and planning, shares an action plan for success in this easy-to-read book.
Sarah Young wrote this collection of one page devotions as if God is speaking to the reader.
Lucinda Secrest McDowell, one of my favorite authors, bases each devotion on a single word and uses it to help readers grow in faith.