How many New Year’s resolutions inevitably crash and burn before Valentine’s Day? Looking back over your past resolutions, how many were actually accomplished? Whether our goals are fueled by guilt or even the best intentions, we often run out steam. Here are some tips on how to make New Year’s resolutions that actually stick.
So, what is the best way to accomplish our goals? On Pinterest, you can download any number of “goal-setting” printables to keep you focused in the year ahead. However, I’ve realized that my difficulty in setting goals was not just sticking to them but in how I defined my goals.
When we allow God to infuse our goal-planning with His purposes and direction, we have real hope in accomplishing our resolutions. By seeking His direction, we can marvel at the possibilities of using our talents, gifts and skills in the way they were ultimately intended. Even the most well-intentioned goals cannot come to full fruition if they are not based on God’s plans for us.Even the most well-intentioned goals cannot come to full fruition if they are not based on God's plans for us.Click To Tweet
God’s plans promise to always be better than ours. God is the divine initiator of all of our future endeavors. Isaiah 49:16 says we are engraved on the palms of His Hands. Our Heavenly Father loves us too much to encourage us to strive after “goals” that will eventually be hurtful or ineffective. Without seeking the Lord’s plans, we face inevitable frustration and disappointment. In order to see the best plans for our lives, we must hold our every dream, goal and aspiration to the light of God’s will.
In college, my goal (although I didn’t always realize it) was to one day be successful and wealthy as an aerospace engineer. Nevermind the fact that I was miserable and that my gifts were not well-aligned for that occupation. I’m so thankful that He stepped in when my goals weren’t aligned with His best, and therefore my best.
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
So how do we set the right goals?
- Take a step back to see yourself as He does. When we stop to think of the great sacrifice He made for us, we automatically gain some perspective. All of our time, talents and resources are ultimately His. As Timothy Keller writes in Every Good Endeavor, “If you see Jesus not as an example but as a Savior doing these things for you personally, then you will see how valuable you are to him. Meditate on these things, and the truth will change your identity. It will convince you of your real, inestimable value. And ironically, when you see how much you are loved, your work will become far less selfish.” Seeing our work in light of His sacrifice makes the concept of sacrifice second nature to us. When we see our intrinsic value as dearly loved children for whom He made the ultimate sacrifice, we have new clarity.
- Prayer is the simplest but most important step. Pray for guidance in setting goals, that He will show you every step of the way, or at least the next step. Ask Him how He wants you to use your time in the coming year and He will be faithful to guide you. “In their hearts, humans plan their course, but the Lord directs their steps (Proverbs 16:9).” I’ve become frustrated in times He doesn’t show me the final destination but only the next step. Looking back, though, seeing how far He wanted to bring me in so many areas, I know I wasn’t ready to know the final destination. It would have seemed too daunting and He knew I was only ready to hear that next step.
- Rely on His power in every step towards completion. Relying on His grace and strength is crucial and the outcome will be so much better. Relying on God means praying, “God, I can’t do this without you…I need you to take it and use me in it, even in spite of my fears.” God is so faithful to redeem my many shortcomings to honor Him.
Our lives seldom go the way we have planned…and that’s ok. It can be difficult to redirect our thoughts from “where we thought we would be” to “where we go from here”. However, God sees life’s twists and turns well before we do. Not only does He prepare us for them but He holds us in the midst of them.God always sees life's twists and turns well before we do. Not only does He prepare us for them but He holds us in the midst of them.Click To Tweet
Spend some time reading over the following verses and ask God what He has in store for the following year. Ask him to show you what your goals should be for this year and what areas need your attention. You will be pleasantly surprised to see how He so gracefully and unmistakably directs your path.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.” Jeremiah 29:11-14
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