We are coming to the end of January, the first month of our new year. Despite the challenges of 2020 and 2021, many still view the start of a new year as the time for new beginnings. There’s an air of hope and optimism rising – fuel for one of America’s favorite pastimes: making New Year’s resolutions.
By this time of the year, most people who make New Year’s resolutions have made them already. They may have written them down in a notebook, pinned them to a wall, or set a reminder on their phones, anything they can do to ensure they follow through and can look back on 2022 with a sense of accomplishment. Each resolution is fortified with the best of intentions, but how many of them actually make it beyond January?
According to Forbes, only 8% of people actually stick with their resolutions long enough to see them to completion. That is a staggering failure rate. Why don’t more people succeed? This may seem like a natural problem, but it has a supernatural truth, and solution, behind it.
Why People Make New Year’s Resolutions
New Year’s resolutions can take many forms. A lot of people set a goal to become healthier or lose weight. Others have a dream travel destination in mind they want to save for. Still others want to step out of the rat race and savor more moments with their loved ones. All of these are noble ambitions and seemingly worth the effort of striving towards them, but even so, people can’t seem to reach them. Where does their motivation go?
New Year’s resolutions are a way to try and avoid the failings of years past. Maybe the last year left a bad taste in your mouth, so you resolve to do things differently, to pursue happiness and fulfillment through self-improvement. It gives you a sense of purpose, control, and confidence that this is the year that things finally change for you.
However, keeping a New Year’s resolution takes dedication and hard work. It’s easy to stay consistent at first, but as life gets complicated and things get in your way, the reasons you made the resolution in the first place seem to grow thin and flimsy. It becomes so tempting to just give up so the pressure to keep going no longer rests on your shoulders. Eventually, you relent and resolve to try again next year, often experiencing a heavy dose of guilt to go along with the loss of your dream.
Is there a better way?
Trapped In A Works-Based Mentality
If you’re a Christian, you may already be familiar with the concept of faith versus works. Ephesians 2:8-10 says,
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
This verse is talking about how humanity can only receive salvation through Jesus and His sacrifice on the cross, not by us doing good works and earning our way to Heaven. The Bible calls us to accept God’s free gift joyfully and believe that we are completely justified and released from our sins because of it. Without accepting it, we can’t achieve salvation, no matter how hard we try. That’s why God’s grace is so powerful – God’s power supersedes our ability.
The principle revealed in these verses extends beyond salvation as well, and can be applied to everyday life. When we try to grow and change using only our own strength, as with New Year’s resolutions, we have a very meager pool of power to draw from to accomplish it. We find ourselves becoming drained and losing the motivation to keep going.
So does that mean we are always destined to fail in our New Year’s resolutions? Not at all.
How God Wants Us to Grow
Wanting to change and be better is not wrong. God never intended us to stay the same year after year. The key to doing it God’s way is revealed in Matthew 6:33-34:
But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Instead of making up your own New Year’s resolutions for how you want to be different in 2022, ask God what He wants for you this year. What does He want you to focus on? How does He want you to grow? Lean in close to His presence and and keep your heart humble. God has a plan for every single year of your life, and when you align yourself with it, you unlock access to His power in your life. John 15:4-5 says,
Remain in Me, and I in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit of itself but must remain in the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; the one who remains in Me, and I in him bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.
With God as your source, you don’t have to worry about failure, because He is the One doing the work in you and through you. All you have to do is be a willing conduit for His power. Rest in Him and watch the fruit spring up in your life!