New Years resolutions are not dumb

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As Americans living in 2018 (hey hey! Happy New Year!), we are:

  1. Smug,
  2. Opinionated, and
  3. Cynical

We think that trusting nothing makes us sophisticated; that being suspicious of all government, authority, reporting, and statistics is the clever move. (As if leaning away from the wisdom of anybody but ourselves is a sure sign of weakness and gullibility. The Bible doesn’t see the world this way, FYI.)

In that cool and untrusting zeitgeist, hope and belief run in short supply — at least having them in an extroverted way. Faith is something you should hold close to the vest if you don’t want to be seen as backwards and reactionary.

One of the many things we reject is the ancient notion of New Year’s Resolutions. (I find it hilarious when we think we’re smarter than the billions who’ve lived before us, and the wisdom of the ages. People have been making New Year’s resolutions for 4,000 years at least). “It’s dopey; it’s naïve to think that we can just make a decision one day and it’ll change the way we live going forward.” Right?

Wrong. Boo on cynicism. You know what I say? That people who actually SET OUT to do something are SLIGHTLY more likely to accomplish it than people who don’t. That moving toward a desired end with effort and intentionality is more effective than considering it to be a possibility or a hopeful maybe. That we were born to make decisions and set our heart on something then go get it.

In his heart, a man makes his plans… but the LORD directs His steps -Proverbs 16:9

The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty. –Proverbs 21:5

For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it — lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’? -Luke 14:28–30

Have you ever said, “Man, I don’t know how I aced that semester! I put no planning or effort toward it! How random!”? Or “I just accidentally lost 25 pounds! What a coincidence!”? Or “I never intended to read the Bible twice this past year! It just sort of… happened!”?

Uh, no. You haven’t.

So here’s what me and Denzel recommend, friends: Make some goals. And don’t just lazily dream something up (“Start on an NBA team by April” seems… foolhardy); put some real thought into what you feel called to by God or that you think is a legit, noble, worthwhile pursuit. Here are some categories to get you started thinking:

SPIRITUALLY — Do you want to spend more time in prayer or meditation? Do you want to read more of the Bible or study some spiritual topic? Might you participate in a Bible study group, or attend conferences or retreats that will grow and challenge you? Make it a goal!

RELATIONALLY — Are there people you feel you need to spend more time with, but just haven’t made it happen? What kinds of movement would you like to see with your spouse, children, best friend, mentor, or someone who needs your help? Think weekly, monthly, and annually.

PHYSICALLY — How’s your weight? Do you wish it were different? (Wrong question! Don’t wish! Make a PLAN, join a club, put it on your calendar, find a trainer… just don’t WISH.) How about exercise goals? How about work goals? Are you physically not home as much as you should be? Write it down!

INTELLECTUALLY — How many books do you want to read this year? Is there a subject you want to master, or a license, or a certification you want to obtain? What creative output would you like to have this year?

FINANCIALLY — What would you like to earn, save or invest, and give (and to whom) this year? What’s something significant and worthwhile you should be spending more money on? Do you have revenue or sales goals at work or on your personal business? Write it down and make it happen!

*A few comments about the above list: First, be specific. “Get smarter” or “be more loving” isn’t practical nor measurable, and you’ll never know if you were successful or not. Secondly, take a risk and share your goals with a few close friends. You’ll find their awareness will produce good peer pressure and positive accountability. Lastly, write them down somewhere where you can check in on them and mark your progress.

Let these goals show up in your weekly and annual calendar, your conversations, and in your thought life. At the end of the day, aren’t these the things that you think your life is supposed to be ABOUT? You have a precious, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to live 2018 for all its worth — so open up the throttle and do it! You have time, money, relationships, and an amazing intellect that are waiting for you to maximize them…and you have a loving Father who looks at you with hope and love and patience and grace, saying, “Well… what do we want to do this year?”

So say adios to modern cynicism and too-cool aloofness. Put some faith forward into the future, and for your sake, God’s sake, and the Kingdom’s sake…Make Some Goals!

Written by Steve Manuel on Jan 3, 2018