It’s the time again when the topic of making New Year’s resolutions inevitably crops up. Good intentions are commendable; we all want to start on a clean slate.
What are some positive changes in our lives we want to see in the New Year? We often resolve to exercise more, lose weight, spend more time with our loved ones, improve ourselves professionally or reduce our debts.
We might want to polish up our social skills so that we can make new friends – or perhaps find a mate. Spiritual goals might include reading the whole Bible, witnessing to our colleagues and getting rid of bitterness or hurt.
But we often get discouraged as we fail to keep our resolutions.
What are some of the reasons why we fail?
- Failure to write it down our resolutions. It is definitely better to have our goals clearly written so that we know where we are heading. And be specific. “Write the vision and make it plain” (Habakkuk 2:2).
- Overambitious plans. If we want to have a muscular physique, we need to pump iron. But we should not raise our hopes too high – such as becoming like Arnold Schwarzenegger in one year.
- Absence of a game plan. It’s not enough to tell ourselves we want to take charge of our health. We need to spell out the specifics: Run 1 to 2 km every other day, reduce weight by two kilos every month.
- Failure to ask: How badly do we want to achieve those goals? From the outset, we have to ask ourselves concerning the level of our motivation. If we are truly desperate because we are broke, we have to be determined to make a success of our endeavour, no matter what it takes. The hunger of a labourer drives him on (Proverbs 16:26).
- Failure to monitor progress. After a rocket is launched into space, the space centre monitors its trajectory. If it strays from the intended course, mid-course correction is taken. Similarly, we have to check our progress along the way and undertake remedial steps so that, come end of the year, we don’t feel we’re a total failure.
- Unwillingness to die to self. Nothing worthwhile in life is achieved without effort. Salvation may be free – by faith. But later it costs us everything (Luke 9:23).
- Lack of willpower. Our mentor, trusted friend or spouse – if we’re married – may help us as accountability partners if we find we don’t have sufficient willpower to succeed.
- Failure to reward ourselves for progress. Do not be too harsh on ourselves. We need to reward ourselves with an occasional buffet treat once we have slimmed down to the desired level.
- Lack of tools and knowledge. If we want to complete the Bible in one year, we can follow the many Bible study plans available at no cost. Reading motivational books or enrolling in a motivational course might help. Don’t be destroyed for lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6).
- Weariness. Nobody can plod on for extended periods without rest and recreation. They that wait upon God shall renew their strength (Isaiah 40:31). So whether our preference is the seaside or the hills, we need to take a break to ramp up our spiritual reserves before we can reach our goals.
What happens if we have taken all the above steps into account and yet fail to keep our resolutions?
Take it easy. The apostle Peter resolved to follow Jesus under all circumstances but he denied his Lord three times. Yet God gave him another chance: “Feed my sheep.” He later became the apostle to the Jews and ushered multitudes into the kingdom at Pentecost.
Stumbling is not to be equated to falling:
The Lord directs the steps of the godly.
He delights in every detail of their lives.
Though they stumble, they will never fall,
for the Lord holds them by the hand.
Jesus taught us we are to be perfect but Paul tells us he has not attained perfection. How do we reconcile these two differing views?
What fate awaits those who sin repeatedly after they have believed?
A clear understanding of the ongoing battle between the “old man” and “new man” is essential before we can walk in victory.
SEVEN STEPS TO BETTER RESOLUTIONS
Note: Dr Lim Poh Ann is a medical practitioner. He was the former editor of Asian Beacon magazine (Dec 2008 – Oct 2011). He can be reached at his Facebook page, www.facebook.com/AskDrLi
SOURCE OF ARTICLE: http://limpohann.blogspot.my/2012/12/resolutions-why-we-fail.html