12 foolproof tips to fail-proof your New Year's resolutions.
We’re 16 days into 2018 and I’m barely getting around to setting some goals.
I tend to have a problem with the idea of resolutions. Maybe it’s because most don’t last, some get forgotten, and others get prematurely shoved onto the following year’s list. Perhaps this tendency is a product of procrastination or an excuse to avoid failure. Or maybe it’s because it’s easier to believe we should be intentional to bettering ourselves and setting goals any day of the year.
Honestly, it’s probably all of the above.
After some prayer and spending too much time admiring all the goal-getters in my feed, I’ve learned: as creatures of comfort, it’s natural to avoid change, but aside from what feels natural, we were created for the unnatural and the extraordinary - for fresh starts and for hope and victory! (Can anyone sense the not so subtle nuance there? If so, comment below!)
We all know goals are important. I’m not here to convince you what you already know. I am here however to challenge you (like I did myself) to fight the urge comfort and stagnancy consistently lands us, and to choose growth instead. Don’t just do something new, but learn something new about yourself and the potential you’re capable of! Discover how sweet a sacrifice can taste after accomplishments and victories big and small.
It’s easy to fight the influence of the dreamers and planners around us and have a good laugh at those who try and fail – including ourselves. Or to avoid failure all together because we’ve bought the lie that our worth is a product of our work. It’s also easy to take the path of least resistance and pretend we’re fine just where we are.
Understand that whether we like it or not, the days, months, and years are inevitably passing - and unless we want to look, feel, or be doing life exactly as we have been, we need to will ourselves to do something about it now – time waits for no one.
Now if you’re anything like me, and you’re late to the resolution party, or perhaps you were on time but have already quit, let's start (or restart) with these tips because it's never too late to try (or retry).
#1. Write your resolutions down.
Goals that float in your head are just ideas. And ideas can get shoved around with out any official intended purpose until they are written with conviction. Perhaps include your “whys” so you don’t forget their added value when you’re feeling vulnerable to quitting.
#2. Start by categorizing your goals.
I didn’t realize how many goals I wanted for my year until I wrote down different areas of my life which could use extra attention. (Tip: all areas of life can always use extra attention.) Ex: Mental, Physical, Relational, Spiritual, Financial, Travel, Creative, Marital…etc.
#3. Be specific and make sure they’re measurable.
“Read more” is not measurable unless you set a specific standard. Try “read 15 minutes per day”, or “start and finish a new book each month”. That way you know what the expectation of yourself is and can keep track of your progress.
#4. Include a plan of attack.
You can’t build a tower without first counting the cost and laying down a strategic blue print (Read Luke 14:28-30). Consider how to incorporate steps toward your goal by being intentional daily.
#5. Pray over your goals.
A goal without a plan is just a wish and unlike all our childhood fairytales claim, not all wishes come true. Not without a plan at least. And a plan is just a limited humane effort without prayer. Like any parent, God wants to be included. He wants to hear all about the ways you’re using the time and skills He’s gifted you for more! And He wants to help, to show you the way, supply you the energy, and to remind you that you can do all things in and through Him - and apart from Him you can do nothing.
#6. Celebrate along the way.
Reflect on your wins and reward yourself! It’s always great to have something to look forward to and there’s no motivation to keep going like pausing to appreciate and recognize how far you’ve come.
#7. Expect an adversary and obstacles.
Anytime I’ve tried to better myself in unfamiliar and uncomfortable ways it seems temptations abound. Here’s the thing, you’re less likely to give in to weaknesses if you expect this kind of pressure before they present themselves – they’re inevitable. Have a plan of attack for these moments too so you aren’t caught off guard with no where to run except the familiar.
#8. Make room for rest.
Notice I didn't say 'find time for rest' – make it, and make it a priority. There’s no way you can successfully push yourself harder against the norm and toward your goal unless you also care for yourself by refilling and refueling.
#9. Get creative with daily reminders.
Don’t let that written list sit and collect dust in your journal nor forgotten in your Word docs. Set alerts and reminders on your phone, create a desktop or phone wallpaper, get artsy and design a pretty graphic to print out your goal list and hang it on the fridge like your little one’s latest macaroni art – loud and proud.
#10. Ask for accountability.
After asking myself, ‘Why January? Why not anytime, all the time?’ I was reminded we were created for community and accountability, and there’s no better time to start fresh and challenge yourself for more when it seems everyone also is seeking the same. How awesome is it to set goals with your spouse, who can remind you and push you? Or to have the opportunity to list your goals to a friend who in turn shares theirs and then pray together over them? Accountability encourages motivation and activation.
#11. Identify and eliminate Naysayers.
It's challenging enough to have that internal battle of pushing through vs. giving up. The last thing you need is to incorporate the external reminders adding negativity. Remove who or what may be holding you back and surround yourself with those who will champion your efforts and success.
#12. Give yourself a little grace.
Just a little, too much grace for yourself will convince you to try again next year or to not try at all. However, understand it won't look perfect and that's okay, as long as you keep trying.
Don’t fear discomfort or failure more than stagnancy or arriving at each new year wondering ‘what if I had started a year ago?’ Instead, envision what you can accomplish in the next 349 days and let that excitement drive you to produce a harvest bigger than you ever imagined!
Share some of your goals below, I’d love to be praying for you!