Why New Years Resolutions Don’t Work

Because it’s the last month of the year December for me is usually filled with introspection, evaluation of what has been accomplished, and planning for what I hope to accomplish in the next year. While this may sound boring to some I actually look forward to it. Theres something about creating goals, breaking them down into bite size pieces, and then planning out steps to achieve them that fills me with incredible excitement. But at the same time there is frustration in my heart as well, while the planning side of this activity is something I look forward to, seeing almost all of my goals haven’t been accomplished is very frustrating.

The problem is even though I love writing complex strategic plans with charts and graphs, I hate the hard work and discipline thats needed to actually accomplish it. This is partially because of my procrastinating nature (I prefer to call myself a visionary) but in a deeper sense it comes from an inability to accomplish those goals. After a few months go by without being able to tick anything off my long list a person can’t help but get frustrated. It didn’t help that I responded to this frustration by adding more objectives or pages to the strategic plan before eventually drowning in unmet tasks.

There is a better way to prepare and plan for the coming year that will result in excitement and encouragement instead of more discouragement. It involves changing our focus from a list of goals to creating one simple mission or task for the entire year. Ideally this will come from a specific burden and calling that God has placed upon our lives like working at a homeless shelter because the Lord has given us a burden for those in great physical need. But the mission can also come from our strengths, passions, or things which we are interested in learning more about.

A mission helps us focus on one primary goal instead of thinking about ten or fifteen in a lengthy document, and over time will change the way we make decisions. It becomes the destination where we want to be in the future, therefore every choice we make can be viewed as a step. The truth is every decision we make takes us in a certain direction but most of the time its hard to know where they take us because we aren’t paying attention. But the missions focus allows us to evaluate our actions in a direct way (is this taking me towards my destination?) and of course will encourage us to act differently if they are taking us in the wrong direction.

Take for instance my goal for 2012 which is to become actively involved ministering at a local school. This has already led me to become part of religious education classes in two separate schools with the hopes of using those opportunities to do more and tutoring in ESL which can also become a school based ministry. My money is being saved up for a sixteen week certificate in Training Assessment which gives the educational background necessary to teach or mentor in the school system. Extra funds from Christmas goes toward purchasing electronic books on teaching or mentoring children, and computer software is used to create small steps that I can take every day towards this ministry. It’s amazing how focusing on one specific goal instead of many small ones can make a huge difference.

As the new years draws closer many people will write pages of new years resolutions that will end up being completely forgotten a week later, others may wake up on January 1 saying “this will be the year I do it” only to quit in month. The answer isn’t more work, added goals, or longer strategic plans. We can only answer that question by finding the mission that God has for our lives and embracing it by eliminating the parts of our lives that distracts us from that goal, and channeling all we have into accomplishing it.

Published by

John Wilburn

Church planter, teacher, and disciple-maker in Barrouallie St. Vincent

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