Where We Go Wrong With New YearÕs Resolutions

60 percent of New Year's Resolutions fail within six months. Here's how to beat the odds.

BY MICAH LANG LIFE December 27, 2013

Whether or not you make resolutions this time of year, you can probably see the appeal. Dreaming of dropping one jean size, or picking up a guitar or speaking French. It’s tempting to use this time of year to finally make that Big Change. Some of us do decide to try. And that’s where things start getting depressing.

We could probably guess the stats. About 40 percent of us will make New Year’s resolutions for 2014. Out of that number, 30 percent will fail after two weeks; 40 percent will fail after one month and 60 percent will fail after six months.

The problem most likely is not the resolutions themselves. Our resolutions are usually good. I would even go as far as to say that New Year’s Day is as good a time as any to start some new habits and make some commitments. After all, it is a time of new beginnings.

But it is very apparent that many of us fail when it comes to New Year’s resolutions. Despite our most valiant efforts, our well-intended resolutions lose their luster and our motivation wanes as time progresses. Does this mean New Year’s resolutions are not worth making? Hardly.

Usually, when we formulate and then implement our resolutions, we go wrong in several areas:

We believe our resolve at the beginning of the year is enough to sustain the following 364 days

When we feel inspired, we often make radical decisions and think that burst of inspiration will be enough to fuel any effort we make. This is simply not realistic. We need more than just inspiration, we need daily discipline. We must re-make the resolution every day and continue in it even when we don’t feel like doing so. This is not easy; which is why we must recognize our weakness. This brings me to my next point.

We focus on external change before we address the internal issues

Some resolutions such as wanting to “eat less junk food” may seem petty at first, but they can carry deep meaning that is extremely relevant to the individual. They are not trivial at all. In fact, they can reveal and describe many deep, important issues.

This is crucial for us to confront because we need to understand the roots and true nature of these resolutions. In these times of confrontation, we need to understand the fickleness of our will power and ask God to do the work of restoration in our hearts. Only then will it affect our external lifestyle.

We try to keep them alone

Our resolutions are purely individualistic most of the time. They should be finding a corporate context for commitment, joint effort and accountability. As is true of most of what we do, we try to walk them alone. We create a self-improvement plan that allows little room for outside input or mutual benefit. We resolve to tackle our internal foes without the aid of anything or anyone outside our control. So we fail. 

When did it become so commonplace to think we could accomplish all these things on our own? Not only that, but if we are going to invest our time and energy into a “cause,” should we not find resolutions to make that go outside of our own personal bubble? Are there not problems in our world bigger than our own?

Now, you don’t have to forsake your own desires of living a better life, but let’s at least look for ways to involve and strengthen others, remain accountable and engage with issues that are larger than our own.

The fact of the matter is that, even if we succeed, what is God thinking about the resolutions we are making? What is His opinion of the “better” person we are becoming? Are these things pushing us on to love and righteousness? Are they drawing us closer in our relationship with God?

In all things, we have one goal: to give God glory. Before we make any resolutions, first ask “God, in what ways may I bring you more glory with my life?” I believe that if we make every decision keeping in mind this question, then we will find a greater joy and purpose in our resolutions.

Micah Lang

MICAH LANG

Micah Lang is a youth leader, worship leader, artist and award-winning designer that lives in Clinton, Mass. He holds a BFA in Industrial Design from MassArt and currently works as an industrial designer in a corporate design firm near Boston while serving in his church. You can follow his writings on art, worship, ministry, the Bible and God by checking out his blog: younganddevoted.com

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