It’s that time of year again. That time when many begin to face the reality that once again their short list of good intentions, a.k.a. New Year’s resolutions, have quickly added to their long list of incomplete tasks and failures. We have the desire to improve our lives through a self-made list of well-planned, yet sometimes self-defeating, behavior changes. Have you been there? Are you there now?
In order not to repeat the cycle of failed New Year’s resolutions which caused me to feel overwhelmed with stress, anxiety, and defeat, I decided to finally seek some answers. I researched over and over which resolutions are popular, which ones work, and which ones fail. I even researched various psychological reports and brain studies and read how our brains are, in some scenarios, actually designed to cause us to fail. This is crazy! I thought the research would educate me for success, not confirm the fact that I will simply fail again and again.
Then it hit me. Although I am a child of God, I am IMPERFECT; missing the mark is a part of my fallen nature. In fact, the Bible tells me over and over stories of great leaders who were children of God who failed big time! Check out the life stories of Abraham, Moses, David, and Peter to name a few. Their failures were simply steps of growth leading them to wonderful success in Christ. God can allow our failures to bring about His purposes for us. That’s the beauty of His sovereign grace.
His sovereignty means that God has total control of all things past, present, and future. Nothing happens that is out of His control. For His own purpose, through His perfect will and timing, all things are either caused by Him or allowed by Him. Paul, in Romans 11:36, says, “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.”
So let’s break it down to keep it simple. We’ve owned up to our failure to accomplish our New Year’s resolutions and understand that even with the best intentions, apart from Christ our way leads to failure. Now here’s a solution to get you back on track.
First, take your “list” and set aside time to pray over it. Ask God to reveal His desire for your life this year as well as practical ways to achieve that desire.
Then, take your top ten and chop it to a top five. From there, prioritize from most important to least important. Remember, you are designed to fail apart from Christ, but also know that you will simply have to acknowledge the failure, confess it with your mouth, and start over again. Take one goal at a time. Put your best efforts into pursuing your goal. Yes, you do have to put some work into it. You will possibly have to make some sacrifices. If you experience failure, accept it and move forward. Take time to pray through it and seek Christ for His strength to be successful. Do not add more goals until you feel you have comfortably achieved a routine with the first goal. Usually, no more than one new goal per month seems to work well for most. Seek a community of accountability and support such as: family, church, support groups, or professionals. “Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). “Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working” (James 5:16).
I want to encourage you in this walk. It is time to pick up the pieces and start over. You CAN do this in Christ. Look at each failure as one of your steps to learning success. My dad once told me something very wise in my early adult life when I balked at the goal of pursuing college. It has rung true with me for over 20 years. He said, “Time will pass, whether you spend it wisely or not.” How true this is, and how thankful I am for my lessons in failure. I will continue to learn daily how to improve, how to pursue Christ with my whole heart, and how to pursue the goals He has for me. I hope the very same for you!