It’s that time when everyone starts thinking about the upcoming year, and many of us start making New Year’s resolutions.
Here’s a question for you: How many New Year’s resolutions have you made in the past? And how many of them have you actually kept for the whole year?
If you just realized most of your resolutions did not work out, you’re not alone. According to U.S. News & World Report, 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail.
This is not an encouraging statistic. This means that year after year, we make resolutions that are overwhelmingly bound to fail.
Why New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Work
Does this mean we shouldn’t try to improve ourselves or do new things? Of course not. It just means we are going about it the wrong way.
There are many theories as to why most of our resolutions ultimately fail, and many of these theories are psychologically based. You can even read some of those theories in the article from U.S News and World Report that’s linked above.
But I believe that one of the main reasons our New Year’s resolutions fail is not related to our psychological shortcomings.
It’s because we don’t listen for what God is personally calling us to work on.
Most of the time, we make resolutions based on what WE think we need to work on. And a lot of times, these resolutions aren’t bad ideas in themselves– they tend to be things like eating better, going to the gym more, losing weight, etc.
But the problem is that we decide on resolutions that are based on what we want to work on, and not what God wants us to work on. So we end up failing, because God’s priorities for our life are not our priorities.
An Alternative to New Year’s Resolutions– One Word
Living a Christian minimalist lifestyle means listening for how God wants us to improve, so we can be who God is calling us to be and focus on what truly matters. This means spending time in prayer, and talking with fellow Christians who can voice things about ourselves that we may not notice on our own.
When we make New Year’s resolutions without listening to God, we are setting ourselves up for failure. God is constantly showing us ways to grow spiritually so that we can better serve God and others– we only have to pay attention.
So, rather than making a New Year’s resolution this year, let’s try an alternative and pray for one word for the year.
My husband works for Life.Church, and every year the staff members pray and listen for the one word that God wants them each to focus on for the upcoming year. And throughout that year, that one word that God has placed on each staff member’s heart drives everything they do and helps them to focus their lives and continue to improve themselves in God’s image.
Last year, I tried praying for one word, and the word God gave me was reset. That word has been a huge focus for me during the year. Getting rid of 60% of our stuff, moving to a different city, working on a different campus, and doing a no shopping year (which I will review in my next blog post, so stay tuned!)– all of this was a huge reset so I could better live the life God is calling me to.
Everything Becomes New
In 2 Corinthians 5:17, Paul writes: “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!”
Coming into a new year gives us an opportunity to start fresh with our lives and with God. We are constantly being made new in Christ. God is wanting to shape us more into God’s image. God is inviting us to live into our personal callings.
So rather than making a New Year’s resolution (or two, or three!) you’ll probably never keep, try listening for God’s voice and guidance. Try praying and listening for God’s one word for you for the upcoming year instead. It’ll change how you live your life for the whole year. It will help you grow more into God’s image.