You do it time and time again, year after year—making promises to yourself that you break within the first three weeks of the new year. Resolutions are not for the weak, which is why I don’t make them, and I advise others to disengage as well. If we were as strong as we’d like to think, we’d have conquered our resolutions year one. Resolutions are a set up for failure. How many times have you told yourself that you would finally get serious about your health—lose those excess pounds and eat better? And how many years have you lied to yourself declaring that this will be the year you get your money right? I know, you had good intentions. It’s just that “this-that-and-the-other” happened. No more excuses. As the saying goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
You see, the problem with resolutions is that they are generally made with no true change of heart or mind. They are generic in nature. “I’m going to lose 20 pounds this year,” or, “I’m going to get out of debt this year.” Just mere statements. In fact, you can make these statements in February, July, or November. There is nothing magical about January 1st. Making a statement does nothing unless you’re ready to commit your mind, body, and soul to the task. You must get to a point where you are sick and tired of the status quo. You must also have a big fat “why” attached to your resolution. Nothing will change until it first happens in your mind. “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2).” When you transform your mind, your actions will follow. If there is no meaningful action, you will continue the same old lie.
How do you stop lying to yourself? Taking the actions below will make it more likely that you will once and for all accomplish what you set out to do in the upcoming year:
- Ditch the resolutions and create goals. Goals are specific, they have actionable steps and milestones, they have an ending date, and they are realistic. Let’s say you’ve had a couple of emergencies this past year (new tires, hot water heater broke) for which you had to go into debt to resolve. You decide that it’s time to establish an emergency fund of $1,200. You can solidify that goal by writing it as follows:
“I am going to save a $1,200 emergency fund this year. I will do so by saving $100 each month through automatic transfer from my checking to my savings account each month.” You can set your emergency fund at a level that makes sense for your income—the point is to set realistic goals so that you don’t become discouraged along the way. If your goal is to lose weight, be realistic about how much you will actually commit to losing in a healthy sustainable manner. Losing 50 pounds in two months is generally not a realistic or healthy goal. Split your goals into manageable bite-sized pieces.
- Get an accountability partner. Enlist someone who shares common goals or who will commit to helping you successfully meet yours. If your goal is to save money, don’t hang out with the friend who shops for a hobby. By the same token, if you want to lose weight, don’t accept every invitation to go out for lunch or dinner with someone whose goal is not to lose weight. Why borrow temptation?
- Pray for strength in moments of weakness. Even when you purpose in your heart and mind that you want to accomplish a task, you will be faced with temptation and moments of weakness. In addition to leaning on your accountability partner, rely on your faith to get through those rough times. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13).” Remember your “why” and trust in God’s power and promises to get you through. The more you successfully resist temptation, the easier it gets! If you fall into your old pattern, don’t wallow. Start afresh the next day. We are granted new mercies every day.
- Reward yourself! Set milestones along the way to meeting your goals. For example, if you have successfully saved $400 of your $1,200 emergency fund and are on schedule, treat yourself to something small yet meaningful. A little incentive along the way makes a big difference. Did you lose 10 pounds on schedule? Go ahead, enjoy the birthday cake.
Whether you want to lose weight, get control of your finances, or fix a broken relationship, you must be intentional about your desire. Set realistic goals and devise a concrete plan of action to conquer your goal—one step at a time, and you can finally stop lying to yourself. Happy New Year!