There it lies, this brand new year, like an empty page, a new beginning, a fresh start.
We often make resolutions and set goals for ourselves. We want to fill those blank pages and start on a new adventure. Every year, I dutifully record my goals. Some of them I achieve, but others I do not. These promises I make to myself become like cotton candy — sweet to my mouth, but soon evaporated and gone, leaving me with a bitter taste.
And I have a feeling I’m not alone.
How can I accomplish my goals?
I look at my cat, snoozing on the carpet in front of the fireplace. He doesn’t make resolutions for the new year. Blissfully, he goes through his days with one intent in mind: eat, sleep, and hunt.
He may need to lose weight, stop scratching the furniture, or catch more mice, but I doubt if he spends much time thinking about how he will accomplish this.
Unlike humans, he has no concept of body image, no pressure to conform to certain standards (oh, no! the cat down the street is slimmer than I am!), and no thoughts for the future. He doesn’t long to improve himself and is content with his lot in life most of the time.
But God made us in His own image.
We have the capacity to think ahead, to plan, make goals, and strive to be better. And that is good. Very good. Yet how many succeed with the cotton candy resolutions they make for the new year?
Studies show that only 8% of the people who make resolutions actually accomplish their goals. That leaves 92% of us poor individuals with discouragement and chocolate-eating depression by February.
The top ten resolutions are:
Exercise more. Lose weight. Get organized. Learn a new skill or hobby. Live life to the fullest. Save more money / spend less money. Quit smoking. Spend more time with family and friends. Travel more. Read more.
Reaching for the stars is not a bad idea if we have our hearts set on doing God’s will and serving Him. Otherwise, it’s all about as worthless as a pile of garbage. “I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord… and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ.” Phil. 3:8
When we ask Him for help, He gives us wisdom. With God’s help, we can accomplish our goals and change our lives.
A little girl overheard her mom and friends talking about new year’s resolutions. On the way home, the girl asked, “What are revolutions, Mom?”
Revolutions may not be far from the mark. We must make a hard right, a dramatic change in our thinking, life style, and habits if we are going to accomplish our goals in 2019.
So, how does a person actually see their goals become hard facts? Can you envision the happy dance you will do when you see the scale reading what you’d like it to read? Finish that college course, that book you’ve promised yourself you’d read someday, or that book you are writing?
It can happen. With God’s help, you can accomplish your goals and change your life. Believe this. It is true.
Here are six tips to get you going and to keep you on the straight and narrow.
1. Dream big.
Audacious goals are compelling. We serve a big God, and He is limitless in His help to accomplish big goals. Do you want to read through the Bible this year? Lose 50 pounds or get into those clothes you loved? Run a marathon or at least finish it?
Ask God what He would have you do. Seek His will and His Word in prayer.
Then dream big. An ambitious aim often inspires others around you. Many will cheer you on. Some will be happy to help in practical ways, such as by training with you or taking on tasks you normally handle in order to free up your time.
I would have never thought I could write 10 books in 10 years, but step by step, I worked at it and through God’s strength and His grace, I have done it! You can rely on Him for the wisdom, guidance, and perseverance to get the job done. Yes, you can accomplish your goals. Believe it!
2. Be specific.
When you write your goals down, don’t write: I want a richer, fuller, more adventurous life. What does that look like to you? Travel? Learning a new craft? Becoming a volunteer? Taking a college course or getting your degree? Running a marathon? If you’re a mother of small children: getting a good night’s sleep?
Whatever it looks like to you, write your goal down in specifics. Instead of “watch less TV”, maybe your specific goal is to cut out one program a week. Chose the program to cut and find something fun to do while you would normally watch it.
Instead of writing, “Be closer to God this year,” write, “Spend 20 minutes a day in prayer.” Or, “Spend 20 minutes reading my Bible a day.” Be specific.
3. Break big dreams into small steps.
Now think small. Baby steps. There is no way you can completely de-clutter and clean your house in a few days, especially if you are a collector of things. You have to take it one small step at a time, just like I do when I sit down to write a book.
Break down the big goal into small steps. Clean one room (or area) at a time. Don’t try to do it all at once.
Make a list of the tasks you need to accomplish to complete your goal and date it so you can see when your deadline comes to complete it.
For instance, this may be your list when you de-clutter your house:
1. Sort through the piles of magazines, Jan. 25.
2. Clean out two kitchen cupboards, Feb. 5.
3. Tackle Peter’s clothes, clean, sort and throw away, Feb. 21. (On subsequent days you will do the same for Mary’s clothes and toys, and for Dominic’s clothes and toys.)
4. Go through the bedroom closets, clean, sort, and throw away. Mar. 2.
Another cool idea: When you make that list, start with some easy-to-do things and then check them off.
A study on loyalty programs to motivate consumers found that giving people two free punches on their frequent-buyer card encouraged repeated business.
Make your list of small goals. Write the first item: Make a list of how I am going to achieve my goal. After you’ve written your list, you can check off the first item! CHECK! Yay!
Give yourself a little reward for achieving that small goal. Small steps move you forward to your ultimate goal. Just getting to first base can build your confidence to tackle — and succeed at — more difficult tasks. With God’s help, you can accomplish your goals.
4. Ask yourself: why do I want this change? What is keeping me from it?
We hang onto old behaviors and habits like bulldogs even when we know it is unhealthy or detrimental to our well-being. Why do you want to lose weight? Quit smoking? Control your temper? Take a college course?
What is keeping you from making the necessary changes to get help or to change your life? Write it down. What would happen if you don’t accomplish your goal? Is it important enough to change?
Post that list, too. Every time you stray from the straight and narrow, go back to the list and read it again. It will help change your thinking and give you motivation to break the habits that are so ingrained in your behavior.
Wear a rubber band around your wrist and every time you are tempted to indulge, snap your wrist. It will remind you not to do it. Through this method, you can remind yourself to accomplish your goals. “There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” CS Lewis We can make some of those “better things” happen right now.
5. Commit yourself.
This is where it gets dicey. If you really want to reach your goal, make yourself accountable to others, either verbally telling them or writing it down. Post your goal on Facebook and allow others to encourage you and pray for you as you do it. Post your achievements and allow your friends to cheer you on.
A friend of mine began an exercise program and posted almost every day about her progress, her exercise, her weight loss, along with pictures. She was bolstered every day with comments like, “go, girl!”, “you look fantastic!”. She reached her goal, and I can see joy on her face.
6. Give yourself a break.
Don’t be a perfectionist when it comes to reaching your goals. If you are, then you will likely give up after a few times when you’ve caved into temptation. Give yourself the luxury of a margin of failure. When it happens, don’t give up.
Twenty years ago, I found a Through-the Bible-In-A-Year reading schedule and followed it. Every year since then, I have read through the Bible in a year, keeping to that same schedule. I like several things about it: one, I read in 4 different parts of the Bible at the same time so it’s never boring, and, two, the schedule is for five days a week, so it gives me time at the end of the month to catch up. Here is a similar one that is free. 5-day Bible Reading Schedule. Download it and print it out or you can get an app. You are only a few days behind, so try it out!
Ask God for strength when you feel tired of the new regime. Renew your commitment to your goals. Consider each new day a new start. I attended a weight loss club once where the ladies cheered if you lost even 1/4th a pound! You also received a little gift which I loved.
Remember: with God’s help, you can achieve your goals and change your life.
7. Review your goals regularly.
Set up a time to check in on yourself. Use post-it notes to alert yourself: check my goals TODAY. How are you doing? Not making any progress?
Maybe it’s time to re-evaluated your time schedule. If you want to lose 25 lbs. by a wedding in May or a cruise in July, and you figured you can do it by losing 2 lbs. a week, but that’s not happening, then make some changes to your eating, your exercise, or lower your expectations.
Pray about it and ask for God’s direction. Maybe you can lose 10 lbs. by the wedding and still feel a lot better. Believe that you can make these changes. Review your schedule regularly and check up on your progress.
Remember: any progress is good progress.
Scale back to smaller goals. Celebrate the small steps. Renew your commitment. Enjoy a break. If you can’t spend 30 minutes at the gym, take a walk during your lunch break. While you watch TV, run in place or do some sit-ups.
I remember a time when my health was so bad, I literally thought I was going to die. I’d been to many doctors, and they all shook their heads and told me they couldn’t find what was wrong with me.
I was so desperate that I was ready to try anything. I called my friend whose mother is a naturopathic doctor and found the answer. It was a new kind of diet I’d never heard of before, the phBalanced Diet. (I am not advocating this diet, merely pointing to the fact that it helped me in my time of need.) Normally, I would have been extremely dubious about it, but I plunged into this new way of eating like nobody’s business. In a month’s time, I started to see the difference, and in six months, I was back on track with a healthy life.
I radically changed my life because I was motivated.
With God’s help we can accomplish our goals and change our life. It’s not because we want to be beautiful, wealthy, or famous. It’s because God wants us to lead happy, balanced, meaningful lives. We must find God’s will and do it with all our ability. “I have come that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” John 10:10
Make your goals for 2019. Dream big. Be specific. Break the big goals down into small steps. Think about your motivation. Give yourself a break. Review your goals and progress regularly.
In it all, give glory to God, for He created you and He loves you beyond any human measure. Because He loves you, He will help you accomplish your goals. Trust Him.
He. Wants. You. To Be Happy.
Have a very wonderful 2019 and may all your dreams, goals, and plans come true!