Approaches to Making Resolutions
Every year I debate whether or not I should make New Year’s resolutions. This debate involves considering various approaches such as:
It also includes asking those closest to me if they’re making any resolutions. If they are, I ask them to share their goals with me and to tell me what they think of mine.
My debate also involves considering the reasons why many people choose to not make resolutions. I don’t mean those who are just too lazy to set goals; I’m referring to people who deliberately choose not to set them and to either abstain altogether or take a non-traditional approach.
One approach is advocated by Pocket Mindfulness who explains Why You Should Not Set New Year’s Resolutions and What to Do Instead. It advocates:
“Rather than rushing forward in a panic to set resolutions or a list of goals you can start on New Year’s Day, forget all that and enter the New Year in a mode of being absolutely present, and absolutely positive, about how great [the coming year] is going to be.”
Another example comes from Tim Ferriss who recommends that we Forget New Year’s Resolutions and Conduct a ‘Past Year Review’ Instead. There’s also the approach of Georgia Bloomberg, professional equestrian and philanthropist, who says:
“I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions. I think if you want to change something, change it today and don’t wait until the New Year.”
I don’t disagree with Bloomberg, though I do think there’s value in including New Year’s resolutions in the process of change if only as a review as Ferriss recommends. Finally, simply determining to be “absolutely present, and absolutely positive” just doesn’t have enough substance for me.
Why I Make Resolutions
For many years now, I’ve made resolutions of some sort for the coming year. Ultimately, I make this decision because I can’t get past the success doing so has brought me. Not a perfect record. Not even close. Yet, far more progress with resolutions than without them.
I also make them because they have brought me closer to God and increasingly into his will. Plus, the Bible encourages the sort of self-reflection and examination that come with the process of making resolutions.
“Let us examine our ways and test them and let us return to the Lord.” (Lamentations 3:40)
“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:22-24)
Simply put, making resolutions at the end/beginning of each year just reminds me to:
- Regularly go through this process of examination and renewal.
- Keep making progress toward perfection.
- Remember that I cannot make that progress on my own.
In my yearly conversation over whether or not to make resolutions, I decided to make them this year. Doing so this year involves combining the approaches I’ve mentioned above with what has worked well for me in past years. That includes doing the following:
- I am reflecting and looking for areas of weaknesses as well as strengths to improve upon.
- My reflections are extending beyond the past year and into the entire past decade.
- Each resolution involves focusing on being absolutely present and more positive.
- The “One-Word 365” approach can be expanded with multiple words that collaborate toward a resolution philosophy for the year.
Perhaps you’ve also noted that this reflection about New Year’s resolutions comes after the new year has already begun. My resolutions are not fully developed yet. This brings in a significant lesson I’ve learned over my many years of making resolutions: Don’t force them. Instead, pray about them. Reflect on them. Let the Holy Spirit lead you down the path of God’s will.