It’s inevitable–this time of year between December 25 and January 1 is filled with conversations, blogs, emails, tweets, posts, etc., all dealing with New Year’s Resolutions. And truth be told, most of these resolutions are not bad; rather, they are pretty good ideas and attempts at change. Actually, according to TIME’s “Top Ten Commonly Broken New Years Resolutions” the list looks pretty good. But let’s be honest, this year after year after year repetition of resolutions and failed outcomes gets old. So what should we do? We have two options: 1) quit or 2) make better resolutions. I want to give 5 simple tips to making better resolutions, and then one suggestion for a resolution every Christian should make this next year. Instead of giving up, this year why not make S.M.A.R.T. (er) resolutions.
SPECIFIC – A goal that is vague and undefined is exactly the kind of goal we not only fail at, but often don’t even know if we met or not. So in making resolutions this year, make them specific. Instead of saying, “I will workout more”, state, “I will run 2 times a week”.
MEASURABLE – Another problem with resolution making and keeping is that we have no standard or rule by which to measure our success. If we take our first example again, “I will workout more”, what is “more” compared to…more than yesterday, more than last week, more than my sister? Replace immeasurable goals, with measurable ones. State the resolution like this, “I will run 2 times a week”. It gives you a measure by which to judge yourself (2 times).
ATTAINABLE – This is the area where most of us fall short–we set goals that are not attainable for us. In our example, “I will run 2 times a week”, the number of times a week is our judge of attainability. How much did we run last year? If we did not run at all, then saying we will run 2 times a week may be a little much. So instead, you may want to bump that “workout more” to “walk/run 2 times a week”. That seems a little more realistic at least at the start of the year and when you find your stamina improve then re-tweak the resolution to the “run 2 times a week”.
REPEATABLE – If you have the specific, measurable, and attainable aspect of a resolution in place, yet still fail, it may be due to the repetition of the goal. Often goals are mentioned as “I will workout more this year”. But two months into the year, when the monkey seems to jump on your back, work commitments get larger, and time becomes tighter, the end of the year can feel far away. So instead make the yearly goal repeatable and able to be evaluated throughout the year. Again, state the goal as “I will run 2 times a week this year”. It gives you a weekly evaluation point and something that is repeatable throughout the year.
TIME SENSITIVE – This aspect is similar to our last one. We often do not give ourselves deadlines within the year. So instead of “I will workout more this year” write the resolution down as “I will run 2 times a week this year”. This gives us a deadline to hit, not once a year, but once every week throughout the year, making success come much more often, and a resolve to continue much more of a reality.
So what kind of S.M.A.R.T. resolution should I make? If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, let me make one suggestion. You should endeavor to make Bible reading/study a resolution for 2014. Why? Love for God’s Word and abiding in it is a sign of a true believer (John 8:31-32). Romans 8 tells us that if we are in Christ we have been set free from sin, yet in the Christian life this side of heaven, our lives feel like anything, but free from sin. But Jesus tells us, if we want to be free, know the truth (John 8:32). Working backwards, He then says if you know the truth, you are my disciples and if you are my disciples you will abide in my word (John 8:31). So make a resolution this year, as a true disciple of Jesus Christ, to abide in His word. But be sure to make it S.M.A.R.T!
Just as an added bonus: check out this article for other great resolution ideas for 2014!