5 Steps to Making Effective New Year Resolutions
A New Year’s Resolution
is a tradition, most common in the Western Hemisphere but also found in the Eastern Hemisphere, in which a person resolves to change an undesired trait or behavior.
Did you make a New Year Resolution? The statistics say about 45% of us made a New Year Resolution.
What did we resolve?
The top 5 are:
- Lose weight
- Get organized
- Save more and spend less
- Enjoy life to the fullest
- Stay fit and healthy
And the good news is that 75% of us keep the resolutions we make! Well, at least we will for the first week, and mostly for the second week, but we do start to fail rapidly after that. By the end of the year only about 8% will still be resolute in our resolutions.
That begs the question, if so few of us are successful why do we make them to start with?
Where did New Year Resolutions get their start?
Let’s take a look back in history to answer that question. Most of the historians believe the idea of New Year Resolutions started with the ancient Babylonians. It seems that their resolutions tended to revolve around paying off their debts and then returning what they had “borrowed”. Actually these would not be bad resolutions even today. Then later the Romans picked up the idea of new resolutions each year and began counting the beginning of the year as January 1. Since their New Year’s party was a celebration honoring the god Janus and involved a lot of heavy drinking, the early Christians shied away from those celebrations. So, for a while in history the Christians didn’t make New Year resolutions and associated the practice with paganism.
During Judaism’s New Year, Rosh Hashanah, through the High Holidays and culminating in Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), one is to reflect upon their wrongdoings over the past year and both seek and offer forgiveness.
By the 18th century here in the US the Puritans also thought the New Year partying was too much and they encouraged instead taking time to reflect on the previous year and contemplate what would make the next year better. This of course led to making new resolutions to do things better or differently in the new year.
Later, at Watch-night services, many Christians prepared for the year ahead by praying and making resolutions.
Why do we make resolutions?
Well, if you are a Christian and take a little time to reflect on your walk with the Lord and your relationship with people around you, it is likely you see a few things you wish were different. We all do. Life is busy and we get distracted by all of the craziness of the every day. In the struggle to live we can easily fall into routines that may help us survive the day, but they don’t help us grow spiritually strong month by month. Making resolutions is a great way to keep things on track and to re-direct areas where we have drifted. Unfortunately simply making resolutions and having good intentions doesn’t insure these things will happen.
5 Steps to Making Resolutions More Effective
Putting action points in place is a great place to begin. A pretty good exercise for all of us would be to rest, reflect, re-evaluate, review and resolve to make a change when necessary. All of this should be done prayerfully, always asking God to show you what He wants you see.
Stop. Set aside a time to cease striving, relax, and breathe deep. Find a place, not just once a year but maybe once a month, turn off the noise of this world and listen to the silence.
Ask yourself the following questions.
What happened last year, or last month, or even last week?
What happened in your relationship with God?
What happened in your relationship with the people God has placed in your life?
What could you do to improve those relationships?
Every week review your resolutions. It is easier to make small frequent directional changes than it is to make large annual u-turns.
Determine ahead of time to make a change when necessary. Make up your mind to make a difference in your daily life that will make a difference in the way you love God and love people.
Wrapping it up
Personally I believe there are two key resolutions that everyone needs to make. These two shape all of the rest and shape our entire lives.
Study the Bible.
Do what it says.
For many people Bible study can be intimidating. Questions like “Where do I start?”, or “How often do I read it?” often come to mind. For years David and I were on staff with Precept Ministries, they exist to establish people in the Word of God. I would highly recommend their studies to help take the struggle out of Bible study. Precept Bible studies are designed to guide your Bible study step by step. Click here to check out their website.
This year make just two resolutions
Study the Bible & Do what it says!