2018 is less than two days away and you know what that means. Champagne, fireworks, and you guessed it. More resolutions! I’ve always thought the notion of making New Year’s resolutions to be a good thing. In fact, I’ve gone so far as to say that unless you’re making resolutions on a daily basis, you’re probably not growing. But I get it. New year, new start, new resolutions…why not?! It can’t hurt. Or can it?
Resolutions can help one build new habits, achieve new goals, and change one’s overall lifestyle for the better. Who can argue with one’s desire to quit smoking, exercise more, get out of debt, or even learn something new? In this way, resolutions are a good thing. But what about when we fail to keep them?
An article in Forbes.com, citing a study by the University of Scranton, suggests that just 8% of people achieve their New Year’s goals. According to U.S. News, 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by February. While much attention is given to how we can improve these odds, we must not ignore the effects that a seeming sense of “failure” can have on people, especially in light of the 92% of resolution-makers who fail to achieve them.
The good news is that we don’t have to ditch the tradition of New Year’s Resolutions.
In fact, by remembering the following three points, we can ensure that they are an integral part of our growth even when they don’t go as planned.
1. Nobody’s Perfect
Whether you find yourself among the 92% or the 8%, we need to remind ourselves that if we were all perfect, resolutions wouldn’t exist. Whatever our resolutions, we shouldn’t forget that every person (not named Jesus of course!) is in need of growth and change. When making resolutions, we are joining the company of those who are admittedly far from perfect. We’re not alone in our flaws, shortcomings, and disappointments. Let us learn to be gracious with ourselves. Our resolutions may not turn out the way we had planned but that’s okay. It just means that we are human.
2. Mistakes are Stepping Stones
John Maxwell’s book Failing Forward was one which was instrumental in my growth following what was, at the time, a pretty grave mistake I had made in my life. Though my wife and I look back upon that time as a necessary turning point for the better, I also see in it the potential to have turned things for the worse. But as John Maxwell so clearly articulates, “opportunity is in the eye of the beholder”. And though our resolutions may have the potential to highlight our flaws and failings, when viewed rightly, they can help serve as turning points for greater growth and change in our lives, as stepping stones for success. For me, it was an opportunity to deal with some of the issues that were exposed in my own heart and life.
3. Character Trumps Success
In the midst of pursuing success, it’s easy to lose sight of what’s even more important – the people we’re becoming. Whether it’s writing a book, getting a promotion, or starting a non-profit of sorts, we all want to accomplish great things. And when done in the name of blessing others, they are admirable endeavors worthy of our pursuit. But what we neglect to see is that we can pursue and even achieve great things while remaining unchanged on the inside. In fact, the “successes” themselves can often serve to mask and even justify some of the deeper-seated issues in our character that need healing and reform.
This was once again made clear to me in a national news story that broke just recently about a seemingly accomplished man who ended up murdering his wife and two young children over Christmas. What may have looked to be a man who was at least on the outside, put-together was one who was deeply broken and flawed on the inside. I am thankful to my wife who reminds me time again that it’s who I’m becoming along the way that matters most. She echoes the teachings of the Holy Scriptures which show that the Spirit is exhibited most clearly in a person’s character and neither their accomplishments or failings. God doesn’t need us to accomplish great things. He’s more interested in the type of person we’re becoming. Be it in our “successes” or “failings”, let’s not lose sight of this crucial yet oft-forgotten truth.
I’d love to hear you share some of your New Year’s resolutions by commenting below. Don’t forget to subscribe.
Happy New Year!