Realize that you don’t have to make New Year’s resolutions to please God. Don’t make your New Year’s resolutions an issue of enormous spiritual significance. Of course, it’s a good idea to have some spiritual goals such as more Bible reading, more prayer, etc. However, you should not fall into the trap of thinking that God is severely disappointed in you if you break your goals. In an effort to conjure up some more self-discipline, some people make lofty vows to God regarding their New Year’s resolutions. This is neither wise nor necessary. It is better to humbly submit your goals to God, and pray for His grace and enabling rather than arrogantly rely on your own strength. Your New Year’s resolutions don’t make God love you more. Your broken New Year’s resolutions don’t make God love you less. God’s grace is enormous enough to swallow up the whole issue of your New Year’s resolutions, whether you keep them or break them.
Don’t shoot for the stars. One of the biggest problem of New Year’s resolutions is their massiveness. Losing 100 pounds, reading 200 books, and eating zero desert is quite a commendable set of goals, but is entirely unrealistic for the average homo sapiens to achieve cold turkey. Be modest about your own ability to achieve goals. It’s better to set a low goal and achieve it, thus making your way incrementally to higher goals.
Make your goals manageable. Hand-in-hand with the enormity issue is the manageability issue. By manageable, I don’t mean smaller. I mean specific. Your New Year’s resolutions should be specific. Let’s take the ubiquitious New Year’s resolution to “lose weight.” It means nothing. Absolutely nothing. How are you going to measure it? How do you know when you’re done? How do you know if you’ve broken it? Or, to take another noble goal, “Read the Bible more.” Okay, but when you wake up on January 1st, how do you know if you’ve accomplished your goal for the day? Do you read one verse? Ten chapters? Or do you just wait until January 2nd to start reading. To make your goals manageable, you must make them measurable and specific. Instead of “lose weight,” resolve to lost at least five pounds by February 1st. Instead of “Read the Bible more,” resolve to “Use the Through-the-Bible-in-Year reading plan ” Resolutions don’t happen simply by sheer self-discipline. Resolutions are kept by virtue of specific, measurable planning.
Stay accountable to someone else. Share your New Year’s resolutions with a friend or with your spouse. Getting encouragement and accountability is an amazing way to maintain your goals.
Don’t give up if you break your New Year’s resolutions. Setting goals is commendable. Realize, however, that your sanctification does not depend on your goals. This New Year, make your goals and rely on God for the grace to keep them. But if you happen to break a few along the way. Well, that’s okay, too.