Welcome to 2019. A new year, a fresh start. And for Christian bloggers, it seems it is a time to put down those who enjoy coming up with New Years Resolutions. In fact, Gospel Coalition has five articles on their site basically renaming resolutions. Not only do we encourage New Years’ Resolutions, but we want to help you with how to make the best of them with great tips from best counseling practices. (Note: I’m a fan of Gospel Coalition, I know several writers there. Just seems like lazy writing on the topic.)

If you have already made some, but they already seem to not be working, no worries, we can fix them as you go. If you haven’t but thought about it, it’s not too late.

Why Resolutions Do Work

From the articles you read on Gospel Coalition, you’d think New Years’ Resolutions were one of the biggest sins Christians were making right now. With misleading statements like “Unlike resolutions, we actually become our habits” or “Goals are overrated; commitments are underrated,” it’s hard not to want to agree. But you need goals and resolutions to develop habits and commitments. If you simply attempt to establish a habit without an end target in mind, you will forever be disappointed.

In fact, Scripture does this over and over again. God calls us to a commandment, a covenant, and a prophecy for our lives. These are what we are to be pushing towards. We see how humanity failed over and over with them, but because of God’s redemption through His grace and the Cross, we are able to continue to try after every time we fall down.

I also want to note that TGC did write some great ways how to learn from failed New Years’ Resolutions and do better next time. They are more philosophical in nature than practical. If you want to understand the why, go read their article. If you want the how to do better today, keep reading.

5 Ways To Improve Your Resolutions

Here are 5 ways to improve your New Years’ Resolution goals. These come from different counseling orientations, including Career Counseling, Motivational Interviewing, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy adapted for this project.

  1. Come Up With List Items During Chaos. Many times I hear people wanting to come up with ideas in the quiet stillness of their life. While this is fine to dream about, it’s assuming you will have this quietness often. With marriages, children, work, and life, it is chaos. I’d actually consider coming up with goals in chaos and then in the quiet times, fleshing out these goals. It will make your goals less “nice and fluffy” and more “nitty-gritty” but life edifying. It’s easy to see a goal of taking more timeouts as a parent when you are upset at the moment as opposed to thinking “I should have more me time.”
  2. Give It A Value. I constantly preach about how the success of a habit, a commitment is defined. In her book on grit, Angela Duckworth state “Enthusiasm is common. Endurance is rare.” Saying “I want to be a better husband” is full of enthusiasm, but your definition of being a better husband is probably different than your wife’s or others. And it’s probably different than what you think a better husband is in six months or six years. How can you be a better husband? What will you accomplish? Spend a specific amount of time with your kids a week? Coach a sport? Pray with your kids every night?
  3. Plan For 3 Months. Most New Years’ Resolutions fail in the first month, nearly all by April. Instead of shooting for a goal in 12 months, let’s shoot for 3. Numbers will be smaller and therefore less scary. If you don’t hit your goal, you can reset for the next 3 months with better goals. If it’s too easy, you can shoot for more.
  4. You Can’t Change Others. Realize that wanting to change other people is impossible. They have to want to change themselves. So having goals that try to do this will not be your success and are more likely to fail. You can pray for the hearts of others, but only God has the ability to change them, instead figure out what YOU can do to impact their lives for better.
  5. Include Others. We already stated enthusiasm is not permenant, but having others help can keep you accountable. And shared goals are even better. Find people you can tell your goals to. Of those people, see if you can have one person that will do it with you. Maybe your spouse or parent. Maybe your mentor or pastor.

What other tips would you add? Share your ideas in the comments below.

Published by Jeremy Smith

Jeremy is a Licensed Professional Counselor working with adults and youth. Jeremy has a history of working as a ministry director for Youth for Christ for 8 years and then working as a mental health and substance use adult counselor in Ohio, specifically running an Opioid Residential Treatment Center.

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