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?”
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 six fundamental steps that can help you keep your New Years’ Resolutions and make lasting changes.
6 Steps For Keeping New Years’ Resolutions:
1. Understand That You Can’t. But 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 own 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.
2. Give Your Life to God’s 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.
3. Take Responsibility For Your 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.
4. 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.
5. 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?
6. Help Others Connect 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?
As you think about your goals for 2022, consider 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 helping others get connected to God. If you’re not actively engaged in your mission, consider that as one of your top New Year’s Resolutions.