How to get beyond New Year’s Resolutions to an actual changed life

The beginning of a new year is a natural time to pause — after the rush of Christmas, and before things start back up in January. It’s a time to reflect and anticipate. We wish each other a “happy new year,” and “all the best.” Instinctively we know for things to be better we need to do some things differently …

But you’ve got to get beyond new year’s resolutions. It’s estimated that only 8% of people actually carry their resolutions through into action.

Here is a simple way to actually make this year better, to change.

  1. Find a quiet place, and bring:
  • Your Bible
  • Your calendar
  • Your journal
  • A pen
  1. Begin by becoming aware of God’s presence

Invite the Holy Spirit to guide your thinking. Ask for wisdom to review last year, and guidance for the new year.

Here’s a Scripture that describes a transformed life:

Ephesians 4.22-24 “22 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; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”

Two active commands: Put off, put on (your part) results in a transformation: being made new (God’s part)

If you want a new life, you will have to do things differently:

  • Some things need to be put off – stopped.
  • Some things need to be put on – started.

You must abandon the myth you can just keep adding, that you can do it all.

You may have to stop some things.

  1. Review, journal, commit

Using your calendar, think through last year and this year. Journal your thoughts, and commit your plans to your calendar.

Here’s a few questions to get you going:

  • Review last year
    • What went well? (Celebrate this!)
    • What didn’t go well? (Learn from this)
    • What was missing? (Check your heart on this; what you wish would have been)
    • What needs to change? What needs to stop? (Think hard here)
  • Preview the new year
    • Fill you calendar first (or someone else will)
    • What do you want to happen? (Put it on your calendar; it will not happen unless you do this!)
    • What do you need to do to ensure that it happens? (You have to plan and prepare for it, or good intentions will not materialize.)
    • What will you prioritize this year? (Something so important that you are willing to give up something else to make it happen. Every big Yes requires a No somewhere else. Too many ‘good’ things are the enemy of the ‘best.’)

There are other personal planning systems that are more detailed and complicated. I suggest you start with something simple, that has a maximum “return on investment” for your time. Something as simple as this blog. Add detail when you master these basics.

Without intentionality to actually shift things, the new year will likely be much like last year.

It does not have to be!