Many of us are skeptical when it comes to New Year’s Resolutions. We may dismiss them altogether. But perhaps we shouldn’t.
A new year gives you the feeling of a fresh start. That’s why a lot of people make New Year’s Resolutions. But maybe you’re pessimistic when it comes to New Year’s Resolutions. Perhaps you’ve made some and not kept them, so you think, “Why bother?”
What Good Are New Year’s Resolutions?
A professor at Scranton University named Dr. Norcross performed a study on resolutions. In his research, he created and followed two groups of people for several years.
The first team was made up of people who wanted to make a change and started their transformation on random dates. The second group also wanted to make a change, but they collectively began on the same day as a New Year’s Resolution.
Those in the first group didn’t connect their goal to the traditional custom of January 1st. As a result, only 50% were still living out the change two weeks after they began. And, after six months, only 4% were living out the change.
Those who participated in the second group started making a change on January 1st. Two weeks later, 71% were still living out the change. And, after six months, that number decreased to 46%.
Making A Change Takes Commitment
Maybe something is compelling about making changes and commitments, especially at the start of a new year.
I wonder what you need to succeed in living a new way in 2018? What’s one change you know you need to make in your life? Maybe:
- You want to be healthier.
- You want to take better control of your finances.
- You have a character issue you want to improve.
- You want to get closer to God.
- You want to read the Bible consistently this year.
- Or, spend more time praying.
- You want to start volunteering.
Change Requires A Step At A Time.
The problem isn’t making a New Year’s Resolution; the problem is your resistance to take steps that will help you keep your New Year’s Resolution.
I’ve been studying how people transform when they commit to making a change. My motivation comes from being the pastor of a church in Las Vegas who reaches out to people in need of a life change.
Through my research, I discovered several steps that can help you keep your New Years’ Resolutions and make lasting changes.
Step One: I Can’t. God Can.
We tend to base our ability to successfully make changes on our willpower. That doesn’t represent the Christian life. The Christian life is, “I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). However, dead people don’t have a lot of power.
Making positive changes in our lives honors God. Seeking to make those changes in our power dishonors God. He tells us, “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,” (Zechariah 4:6). Your strategy for keeping your resolution needs to be total dependence on God, accessing his power through prayer.
Step Two: Because I’m God’s Child, I Give My Life to His Will.
The most important question about our New Year’s Resolutions is why. Sometimes we pray, asking God to help us make a change we want to make. We don’t understand why our prayers go unanswered. God tells us, “When you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong. You only want what pleases you.” (James 4:3).
A Christian is someone who has decided to live in a way that, “whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). Whether we resolve to eat more vegetables, drink more water, or whatever it is, we seek it for God’s glory.
Step Three: I Ask God to Help Me Own and Release My Past.
Working with lots of people who want to make lots of changes, I find a recurring theme: What’s keeping them from the way they want to live in the future is the way they’ve lived in the past. In my life, for years I tried to have less anger and more patience. I could never do it until I genuinely dealt with what was causing it.
Whatever it is you’re doing that you don’t want to do, or not doing that you want to do, why? Why do you overeat or exercise too little, smoke or look at porn, yell at your kids or have bitterness towards your parent? To change, you need to ask God to help you own and release your past.
Step Four: With God’s Help, I Always Forgive and Ask to Be Forgiven.
When we start thinking about the past, we often discover an issue of unforgiveness. It could be guilt about our actions or cynicism about someone else’s sin that’s keeping us stuck. We don’t realize how guilt and resentment can stain our lives and infect everything.
May I encourage you? If you have guilt over your transgressions or bitterness about sin committed against you, make forgiveness your top priority. Receiving forgiveness, or giving forgiveness will help you in every other area of your life.
Step Five: I Stay Connected to God and Others.
I think it’s wise to include God and a few close friends in deciding what New Year’s Resolutions you need to make. It’s also necessary to involve God and a few close friends with keeping those resolutions.
Your strategy for faithfully living out the new you is connection. How will you stay connected to God on a daily basis? What’s your plan for accessing his power? Who are the friends you’ll ask to pray for you and hold you accountable?
Step Six: I Seek to Get Others Connected to God.
There’s a saying in the recovery movement, “There is no healing without helping.” There can be something selfish about seeking to get unstuck when our focus is just on us. When we focus on others, it can have a surprisingly positive impact on us. So, what if, instead of seeking to keep your New Year’s Resolution, you decide to help others keep theirs’?
What if, instead of seeking to keep your New Year’s Resolution, you decide to help others keep theirs’?
While we’re at it, when you think about how you need to live in 2018, what about living out the highest priority God has given you? Jesus’ final marching orders for his followers was, “Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:20).
Your mission is to get others connected to God. If you’re not actively engaged in your mission, that needs to be your top New Year’s Resolution.
I recently wrote a book called Restore: Break Out of Your Past and Into God’s Future, which is all about how stuck people get unstuck. Want to make a change in 2018? Want to break out of your past and into God’s future? Check out my new book, “Restore”!
Share this Post