How to Make New Year’s Resolutions (and know the ones you should really drop)

So it’s that time of year again isn’t it? Time for New Year Resolutions! If you’re like me (and probably over 90% of the rest of the world), resolutions are something that you always think about but almost always fail to execute.

A long time ago, I began to try and think differently about resolutions. And I took my cue from that brilliant moment when Jesus teaches about vows in the Sermon on the Mount, specifically in Matt. 5: 33-37. Jesus says, “To strengthen your promise with a vow shows that something is wrong” (Matt. 5:37, NLT).

Boom! Take that, New Years Resolutions!

I think what Jesus is getting at here is that either you either believe something is good to do, or you don’t believe that something is good to do. If you’re depending on a vow or a resolution to follow through on something, it will most likely fail. And that’s because it’s not resolutions that follow through, it’s heart change that follows through.

There is a profound difference between saying, “I love you” and saying, “I’m legally obligated to love you.” One implies that no matter what happens, your heart will guide you towards loving actions towards that person. The other statement implies that you will only perform loving actions so long as you have to. The moment you don’t have to follow through, you will likely find an excuse or simply just not do it! This just isn’t love! And it’s not an authentic choice.

When it comes to life choices, Jesus says in an earlier part of those verses, “Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.” That’s it.

Now, if I’m not following through on something that’s important to me, I have to ask myself, “Do I really want this?” If the answer is yes, then what do I have to change in my heart in order to follow through? And if I still can’t follow through, then perhaps I have to start grasping the reality that this isn’t truly something that I want, even though I say I do.

This way, my resolutions are not something that I try to extremely grasp for every New Year’s Eve, but they are conscious and cultivated movements of my spirit where I am growing gradually into what I want to be.

This doesn’t mean that I’ll execute perfectly on my choices every time. Far from it!

But what I will know is that this choice is a priority for me; and just like good exercise, I will work on it.

This also requires the knowledge that it’s not success that defines our choices, it’s how we want to pursue them that defines our choices.

This way, these are not choices I only make every January 1st, but they are choices that I try to make all 365 days of the year.

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