Healthy Goal Setting


New Years statsNew Year’s Resolution Statistics

All too often, setting goals or resolutions seem to set people up for failure and increased self-abasement. Consider the following statistics:

45% of Americans usually make New Year’s Resolutions.

8% of Americans succeed in keeping their resolutions.

24% never succeed in keeping their resolutions.

These statistics hold little encouragement or motivation for setting New Year’s resolutions. Now consider this related statistic:

People who make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t explicitly make them.

While the failure statistics speak loudly, a focus on the probability for success can determine the reality for meeting desired change. Increase your chances of success by setting resolutions that take steps toward a healthier you, that focus on whatever leads to more joy and that build and repair relationships.

Goal Setting Tips for A Healthier Year

Creating resolutions/goals significantly increases your chances for moving forward. But how you go about making and maintaining those goals has a huge impact on their chances for success.

Consider the following goal setting tips to help you move toward a healthier year.

  1. Pray first. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the goals that direct you down the path of God’s will for His glory. (Proverbs 16:9)
  2. Keep it simple. Simple may not necessarily mean easy, but it does mean more focused and true to who you are in Christ. Stay simple and specific with goal setting.
  3. Think small-steps. Never underestimate the power of small steps to add up over time to make a huge difference.
  4. Write them down. People are 42% more likely to achieve their goals just by writing them down.
  5. Pray often. Put your written goals somewhere you’re likely to run across them frequently. Pray over them every time you do.

Ask yourself what reality you want to struggle toward this next year. Remember too that a reality of true joy and one where truth determines focus lies at the heart of a struggle that truly leads to victory.

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23 Replies to “Healthy Goal Setting”

  1. i don't set NY resolutions. Used to but decided they were becoming more of a detriment to my walk with Christ. i did set a fitness goal or two this past year: cycle 2500 miles and maintain my weight at 205. I was able to manage the first and for 2/3 of the year stay close to the second. Only within the past month or so has the second become harder to maintain. But once my grandson is gone and I can set up my bike, it will happen. Measuring my walk with Christ is not so easy. And I certainly don't want it to begin looking legalistic. So I will simply continue praying, reading, and journaling.
    My recent post Interruption

    1. I guess I do not see resolutions and goals as being different things, but a lot of people do see them as different. They work well for me. Maybe it depends on personality? Maybe something else? Do what works for you, right? Though, many are not doing anything to help them grow and change.

  2. The annual obligatory message was preached at church about this subject. As the message was shared an image came to me: Time is a straight-line continuum where the future leads to eternity and behind us is our past, all but forgotten and unchangeable. Beneath the time line is the wheel of our life cycle which contains 365 (sometimes 366) days carefully marked on the circumference. Each sunrise cycles the wheel another day as it crawls along beneath the time line like two gears engaged to drive time in motion. All this describes the reality that everyday in itself creates a new present day with a new year to anticipate. Our culture has held New Year's as the most sacred day since time became marked by our current calendar, but we also unofficially celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, seasons etc throughout any year's cycle in similar reverence. Rather than wait to the annual climatic day we call New Years to make our resolutions, why not live daily resolved to make the most of our future? The present day is the only moment on the timeline where the wheel and line meet when we can control what happens. The past is locked behind us and the future is only in God's hands.

    Sorry for the philosophical analogy but guess it comes with age. In simple terms our resolutions are much more manageable when we resolve daily to make today better then yesterday and anticipate the next sunrise as God's blessing. We can dream about the future beyond tomorrow but the further out our vision, the more likely we will be disappointed by the reality of that distant goal we resolved to achieve. There is a lot of biblical passages that speak about this thinking… God bless and may tomorrow bring blessings and hope for what will come at pleasure of God's will. (Ouch my brain hurts contemplating the truth of time – because I confess to hold onto my dreams for the future, but I check in daily with God for His will, ways and wisdom.)

    1. "Rather than wait to the annual climatic day we call New Years to make our resolutions, why not live daily resolved to make the most of our future?" I couldn't agree more. However, I also believe we can use this cultural celebration of New Year's to do a self-evaluation. In other words, use it for our good. Doesn't mean we shouldn't evaluate throughout the year too, but I find that I need these regular reminders (New Year's, birthday, anniversary, even holidays) to reassess aspects of my life. It's not that I don't do them on other days, but these "special" days remind me too in unique ways. For me, New Year's resolutions (or whatever you want to call them) serve as one way I evaluate the past year, make adjustments, and move forward with the over-arching purpose of making myself better each day. But, as I said, other days do that too. I just see too many people not self-evaluating in any meaningful way, so I think we would do well to use whatever tools we have available to us if they work for us. If New Year's resolutions don't work for someone, they shouldn't do them. BUT, they should do something that keeps them focused on improving each day. If I don't name some specifics, and I think this is true for many people, I get overwhelmed because I look at too many things I want to change and improve on each day. Setting goals & resolutions helps me focus in and do a better job with each day I'm given. I'm guessing there are lots of people out there like me but lots that take a very different approach too as well as lots that don't make any effort. Just some additional thoughts based on your very philosophical thoughts.

  3. Absolutely… Having a vision of the preferable future is where our faith is anchored. Just like our shared project, I weekly review, evaluate and adjust as needed to keep moving forward. In my corporate days I remember using the Christmas season leading to New Years to evaluate and then project the coming year. Now being retired has changed my perspective. I agree we all are different and I respect our differences and needs to grapple with time and our dreams for better days ahead.

    1. The main point is that we need to have some system or way to evaluate ourselves and move forward in an improved way. In most cases, doing whatever works is what a person should do. Of course, the means don't always justify the end, but that's why any sort of goal setting must be blanketed in prayer. The Holy Spirit leading with goals, even just daily "to do" kind of things, is essential.

  4. Good advice as always Kari! Happy New Year. Did you chose a ONE WORD for the year? I did, or should I say God did, because it keeps popping up again and again. With facing health issues with my eyes I believe it is very important one. TRUST. From Proverbs 3. It is easy to say we trust, but we don't always do it with ALL our heart. So I am asking God for help in that area, along with the other traditional issues that the scales and the doctors will keep me on track on. God Bless.

    1. Thanks, Mary. I guess l did choose a word, though I didn\’t really focus on the one-word approach for the coming year. Felt like the Holy Spirit impressed a focus of \”listening\” for me. Need to study it out & pray about it more though.

  5. Kari,
    I think it is important to have goals and if the new year helps us to rethink those I think that is good. It is hard to meet any goals if we dont set some. We have to be intentional. Meeting goals requires plans and it requires changing habits. We have to do that everyday. We do have a new start each day. I think sometimes the hardest thing to do towards our goals or resolutions is just starting. If we commit to just start then I think it helps alot.
    Put together a plan and then change our habits to work the plan.
    I'd rather fail at trying to achieve some goal than not have any.

    1. I agree, Mark. The problem, it seems, isn\’t with the method so much as with excuses. It\’s easier to say something just doesn\’t work instead of pushing & figuring out what will work. Just keep trying something until the discovery of what works is made.

  6. Well, probably not surprising, but I love New Year's Resolutions – if done right, that is.
    One key I've found is to keep mine limited to a small list (this helps me give each one the focus it deserves). I've also found that regular review is essential – otherwise it's easy to keep delaying working on the goals.
    My recent post Why God May Oppose Your New Year’s Resolutions

    1. No, not surprising. I am very glad you weighed in on this though, Loren. You have a lot of great tips to help others succeed with goals and resolutions. Your tips in your comment are probably two of the most important. Simplifying our goals and reviewing them frequently will make a big difference in achieving them. Too often, I think people refuse to have resolutions because they have had a bad experience with them. As you said, if done right, resolutions are quite effective.

  7. I love how you've broken this down here. And though I had written down some of my goals, I decided to take the opportunity to write down other ones as well. I think our goals are important because we have to know what we are aiming for. I wasn't always of this mindset, but I'm a firm believer now! Thanks Kari.
    My recent post Can You Be Too Smart?

    1. You're so right Jason, we really need to know where we're going. For so many years, I lived life aimlessly and didn't make much progress to speak of. Since I've been setting goals and resolutions, I've seen significant progress for sure. So, I'm with you regarding the change of mindset to one of firm belief. Thanks, Jason!

  8. I love this post and topic. #3 is especially important, small steps or progress is key. It allows us to achieve wins which motivate us to keep practicing the habit we are forming.

    For myself and health this year I plan on eating smaller portion sizes, eating out less (which is a habit my family formed last year), working out 2-3 times a week (primary during breaks at work, like walking for 15 minutes), and cutting back on junk food. Also making sure I get enough sleep, naps, and time to relax.

    1. Achieving "wins" is very motivational for sure, Dan. Good point. You have set some good goals for yourself this year. Seems like you're working on small steps that will establish better habits for yourself, and these are the building blocks for so many positive things. Good job!

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