It’s that time of the year again. A time for sharing special moments with family and friends. A time to look back at what we were able to accomplish this past year. A time to make the typical, never kept, New Year’s Resolution. However, what if I told you resolutions are for wimps?
Every year, millions of people make New Year’s Resolutions to lose weight, take economic risks or just “love more”. Aw, how sweet. Unfortunately, 55%+ of all New Year’s Resolutions are broken within the first week. Almost 100% of the resolutions made are forgotten and broken within a few short months. Why is this so prevalent in our society? Why do we focus on what we seemingly cannot accomplish?
For many years now, we continually hear the rush of disappointing waters running over the cliff of despair. We have been taught to make promises to ourselves at the beginning of the year. However, as human beings, we also have a tendency to break these same promises. Look at politicians. They make hundreds of promises only to break those promises within the first week of their office. We see big business promise that this year will be better than last year. Then we watch the stock market only to see our lifetime investments dropping, losing what little we had. In essence, we are all taught to make promises to ourselves and to others, but if we break those promises, it’s okay. Or is it?
Jesus addressed this problem by saying the following:
Matthew 5:36-37 (New International Version 1984 (NIV1984))
And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.
Here, Jesus was addressing a crowd, teaching them principles that seemed to fly in the face of leadership of His day. The Jewish leaders had taught the people that making vows (promises) to God was okay and was extremely important to fulfill. However, Jesus, knowing the heart of mankind, told the crowd not to worry about making promises. He simply wanted people to keep their word. If I had to re-write what Jesus taught in today’s language, it would probably read something like this:
“Why do you keep promises you cannot keep? You aren’t in control of everything? You can’t control life or death, so instead of making empty promises, time after time, just keep your word. Let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ and your ‘no’ be ‘no.”
I know, Jesus said it better (and shorter), but here is a principle we need to start adhering to. When we make commitments, we need to keep those commitments. If we cannot do something, we should not feel guilty because we can’t fulfill other’s expectations. We should simply keep our word.
In this season of making resolutions, I believe that if you and I make New Year’s Resolutions, we are wimps. We cannot obtain something that we have no motivation for. We cannot complete what we do not enjoy. A wimp is someone who “crawls back into their shell”, who let’s others abuse them and who doesn’t keep their word. Instead there is an alternative to a New Year’s Resolution – goal making.
Goal making is quite different. When we make a goal, we are saying, “I really believe that I can do this” and “I really believe that God wants me to do this.” What we are doing is making a commitment to do something that is obtainable and won’t make us depressed when we don’t fully accomplish it. Goals look at the positive, while resolutions look at the negative.
A goal says, “Look at what you did. It was awesome!” A resolution says, “Look at what you did! It was horrible. You should have done more.”
Most very successful people will tell you, set a goal, track a goal, complete a goal and then set another goal. It doesn’t have to happen once a year. It is continuous. It is traceable. It is obtainable. It is successful. This has been proven time and time again.
As we look forward to 2012, we need to make goals that are obtainable, reasonable and have been prayerfully considered. Every year, I look at what I did the previous year and adjust these goals to the new year. Let me share with you one of these goals. In 2011 I wanted to read 6-12 books. However, I only read 4 books. Did I reach my goal? No. Was I depressed because I didn’t reach it? No. In fact, I was proud of what I had read. For some reading 6-12 books a year is easy, but for me it is difficult due to my personal circumstances. So what did I do for 2012? I simply set a goal for reading 6 books this year. Not 6-12, not 15-30, just 6. It is a small reach to read 2 extra books this year. It would have been an impossibility to read 10+ books this year.
For the new year, let’s all make a decision to make reachable, obtainable goals. Then write them down and place them somewhere you will read them every day. Maybe start off with one goal. When that is completed, then set another goal. Don’t overwhelm yourself with lots of goals, just one or two. And when you set your goal, let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ and your ‘no’ be ‘no’.
Remember, resolutions are for wimps, while goal setting is for champions.
Enjoy the new year, God bless and encourage someone today.