What will we do with the new year just arrived? New Year’s resolutions have been a helpful tool to maximize the new year and enhance one’s spiritual growth.
According to the Journal of Clinical Psychology (Dec. 13, 2012), only 8 percent of people who make New Year’s resolutions actually keep them. Only 45 percent of Americans make resolutions, while 17 percent make resolutions infrequently, and 38 percent never make them.1
In Psalm 119:59 David gives timeless counsel about the preparatory work for making resolutions. In the first part of the verse he focuses self-reflection, saying, “I have considered my ways.” In the second half of the verse he refers to the need for improvement, saying, “And have turned my steps to your statutes.” David allows God’s Word to be both his catalyst and his motivation for success and sanctification.
What are the top 10 New Year’s resolutions? Lose weight; get organized; spend less/save more; enjoy life; stay fit and healthy; learn something exciting; quit smoking; help others; fall in love; spend more time with family.
Christians typically include resolutions relating to reading the Bible; having consistent devotions; doing acts of community service or beginning special ministries; being faithful in tithe and offerings; spending less time with media and entertainment and more time in church.
Whether you are among the 45, 17, or 38 percenters, resolutions or intentions can be good to consider, since they are a platform we can use to do and be better.
Ellen White admonished, “The development of all our powers is the first duty we owe to God and to our fellow [men and women]. No one who is not growing daily in capability and usefulness is fulfilling the purpose of life.” When we become Christians, we enter into a covenant of lifelong learning and improvement. “In making a profession of faith in Christ we pledge ourselves to become all that it is possible for us to be as workers for the Master, and we should cultivate every faculty to the highest degree of perfection, that we may do the greatest amount of good of which we are capable.”2
One approach to assist in better achieving our resolutions is the SMART method, a commonly used acronym in business and management for goal achievement. SMART represents the words specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-specific.
First, don’t attempt too many resolutions at once. A few good resolutions are better than many. Your resolutions should be specific. Define exactly what you intend to do, and state in detail what the goal is. Second, have a definite way to measure progress. Have specific steps to accomplish the goals and how they can be evaluated. Third, construct achievable goals, based on your capability to realize them. Fourth, although a goal may be a challenge, it must be realistic, or disappointment is guaranteed. Then set a time frame for achievement of the goal. Your goal may take a day, a week, or several months.
You may want to add two letters to the SMART acronym making it SMART-ER. Two additional letters (or tasks) can make the process even more engaging. If you have the motivation, evaluate how you did with your resolutions. And when you successfully accomplish a resolution, reward yourself in some healthy, harmless manner as an affirmation of what you have done and plan to further do in the future.
God can help us be better and do better with simple, executed resolutions throughout the year. Resolutions can be a part of a Christian’s ongoing sanctification.