New Year’s Resolutions That Work: The First Two Critical Steps

Hey there. How are things going with your New Year’s Resolutions? Hopefully you’re off to a good start and not one of the 25% who have already thrown in the towel. But even if you have – or are still working on them (like me) – there’s room for a fresh beginning.

In an earlier post, I shared two reasons traditional resolutions are an epic fail. This time, I want to get practical and share the first two steps in the five-step process I use (adapted from Michael Hyatt) to set my own goals.  It’s a work in progress, but I think you’ll find it useful as you make your own plans for 2015.

 bullseyeCreative Commons License Emilio Küffer via Compfight

#1 Believe That God Can Change You

I know you believe this in theory.  You’re not supposed to say you don’t, right?  The truth is, though, we’ve all failed before and we’re afraid to hope things could be different.

I’ve resolved, for example, to get to bed at 10:30 on nights I’m working the next day so I can get up early.  I’ve tried this before and failed.  A lot.  Why should I think this time will be any different?

If all my hope were in me, I shouldn’t.  But it isn’t.  Listen to Ephesians 3:20.  ‘Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us…’  Paul is talking about God’s resurrection power, the power that raised Christ from the dead.

If you know Christ, that power is already at work inside of you.  That process isn’t completed yet, obviously, but it will be someday.  So, if God is going to raise me from the dead, I think he can help me get in and out of bed on time.

We need to start with what God says is true and apply that to our lives.  Instead of starting with what we’ve experienced (often failure) and limiting God to that.

Where do you need to believe God can work in your life?

#2 Confess Your Sins And Turn To God In Faith

After asking God to help us believe that he’s at work in our lives, it’s important to face where we are now. Not where we’d like to be, but where we really are.

In my case, I’ve had to face the fact that I rarely get to bed on time because there are a million things I want to do. Not that that’s wrong in and of itself, but I need to acknowledge God has given me limited time and capacity.  This is what I keep resisting and where I need to do the hard work of confession.

Not fun, but so worth it.  ‘If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness’ (1 John 1:8-9).  When we admit we’re wrong, we start to see clearly, and God not only warmly forgives us but also gives us new power to overcome what we’re struggling with. (That’s what John means by ‘cleanse’).

If we want to move forward in some area of our lives, we need to get past the past.  And turning from our sin to God in faith is the way we do it.

As you think about the areas you’d like to set goals, where do you need to do the hard work of confession?

So, the first two steps in setting new resolutions or goals involve believing God can help us change, and, seeking his forgiveness.  Next time, we’ll talk about the process of setting goals that work.