About half of all Americans set New Year’s resolutions. Maybe you’re one of them. At the very least, I bet you’ve thought about it. And, that there are some things you’d like to change even if you’re not quite ready to do something about it.
Last year, I set 11 goals and… only accomplished two of them.
But in reflecting back on why I didn’t do better, I realized something pretty significant. I put too much pressure on myself to succeed. I felt like it was all up to me.
Which led to this cycle:
- an initial burst of energy (‘I’ve got this!’),
- then a period of lethargy (‘I’d rather not think about how I don’t have this!’)
Lather, rinse, repeat. Einstein’s definition of insanity personified. (LOL.)
Maybe you can identify with my pattern of try hard – fail – hibernate. Or, maybe you’re driven and accomplishing what you want, but exhausted. And some of you may just be tired of failing, so you’d rather never start. (Hey, you can’t fail that way, right?)
But none of those options are satisfying if we’re following hard after Jesus. (And you guys are!)
So as the New Year gets underway, what are some simple principles (for details on how to actually do it, see this previous post) that can help you avoid the kind of driven burnout or Eeyore-like lethargy I describe above?
4 Principles To Guide Your Plans For The New Year
- Making plans and goals is important. The Bible never says you have to make New Year’s resolutions. In fact, the way we do often sets us up to fail. But the Bible does call us to a vibrant relationship with Christ, and that ought to get us excited about doing things that matter. Which requires us to prioritize those things and actually attempt them. ‘The noble make noble plans, and by noble deeds they stand’ (Isaiah 32:8).
- But God needs to be at the center of our plans. So the Bible calls us to make plans, but it’s entirely possible for us as Christians to put ourselves at the center of our lives. To demand our way and put God on the sidelines. I work with healthcare students, for example, and some of them will miss church so they can study. (I get it.) But even as we make plans, James reminds us that we ‘ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” ‘ (James 4:15; see vv. 13-17)
- Change and progress are hard and messy. We all know this in theory, but somehow expect it to be different. Part of that is an over-inflated opinion of ourselves, fed by doting parents, our successes and an American can-do spirit that says we can accomplish anything we set our minds to. (The worst lies are half-truths.) But ever since Adam and Eve took the bait, we live under the shadow of the curse (Genesis 3:17-19), which means the trajectory of our progress will often be like walking up a set of stairs with a yo-yo. So if it feels like moving forward is hard, you’re not hallucinating or less competent than the people around you.
- But change and progress are entirely possible with God’s help. In Christ God has given us all the resources we need to change and impact the world around us. Paul says, ‘If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come’ (2 Corinthians 5:17). In other words, a transformation similar to what happened when God created the world from nothing has happened in you, Christian. And, God is ‘able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us’ (Ephesians 3:20). So, we can’t outplan God. He can accomplish what we’ve thought of – and then some.
I know I’ve just scratched the surface, guys. But here’s the point:
As Christians, we have every reason to be excited about our lives and the year ahead. Rather than being afraid to make plans and fail, or, aim for the stars on our own, we can involve him from start to finish and trust that he will help us accomplish all that he has in mind.
Which of the four principles above would help you most as you make plans for the coming year? Share it with us in the comments below so we can encourage each other?