"By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; and by knowledge
the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches." ~Proverbs 24:3-4

Not Just For Kids

New Year Resolutions

The new year is an excellent time to reflect and make resolutions. The tradition of New Year resolutions was inherited from the ancient Babylonians, who believed that what a person did on the first day of the New Year would affect the entire year. A resolution is a serious vow to do something better or to accomplish a goal by taking a firm course of action. If the new year is really going to be any different, it means that you have to actually make some changes, not just empty promises or wishful thinking.

Does your list of resolutions this year look the same as previous years? I can remember all too many resolutions I've made and let slip away. Even with sincere motivation, it isn't always easy to pick a resolution and stick to it. But I still believe that new year's resolutions are worth making. Sure, we’re not perfect and we might fail in what we set out to do, but "if we fail to plan, then we plan to fail."

As the Apostle Paul endeavored to preach the Gospel of Jesus, he was constantly being hindered. He was opposed, persecuted, shipwrecked, beaten, stoned, deserted, slandered, scorned, threatened, and imprisoned. Someone else under those circumstances would have given up. Yet Paul was not willing to quit. "Forgetting what is behind, and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me..." (Philippians 3:13-14, NIV) Paul didn't look back – he looked forward. He didn't let past failures or delays in his work keep him from pursuing a most worthy goal. Keep this in mind as you pursue your own goals in the new year.

Do you really want to keep your resolutions this year? Here are a few goal-setting tips:

1. Don't Try to Do Everything at Once. There's a temptation at the beginning of each year to brainstorm a list of everything we've ever wanted to change. But you will have better luck fulfilling one or two specific goals than you will with a list of fifty. You can always add new resolutions later, once you finish the others. Concentrate on one thing at a time.

2. Word it Carefully. Let's say your resolution is to be more relaxed in the coming year. Don't think of it as "This year I am going to stay calm." That's stress-inducing because it makes you think of the resolution as something you have to do, not something you want to do. Instead, say: "This year I'm going to try different relaxation techniques." It also suggests more of a plan, rather than implying that you're going to force yourself to relax by sheer willpower.

3. Make a Plan. You can't accomplish much of anything without a plan. Once you know what your resolutions are, narrow them down into a plan of action, which you can work on one step at a time. This doesn't have to be a complicated plan, but it should at least give you a starting point.

4. Write it Down. Write down your resolution. Post it on the fridge, in your locker, on your bathroom mirror, wherever you'll see it regularly. That way you will be constantly reminded of your resolution. A resolution doesn't have to be written in stone, though – it's okay to change the wording as time passes and you adjust your action plan or goals.

5. Let God Help. There is no better time than the present to learn to rely more heavily on God's help. If during the past year you didn't practice trusting in the Lord as much as you should have, make that your number one resolution. Submit your resolutions as a prayer request to God, asking Him for the strength to carry out your goals when you are struggling, procrastinating, or feel like giving up completely. If you place every aspect of your life into God's hands, you will be much more likely to have a happy new year.

Haven't thought of a resolution yet? How about picking one or more from the following list!

  • Start a new tradition.
  • Break a bad habit.
  • Go to church.
  • Practice punctuality.
  • Keep a journal.
  • Be more polite.
  • Learn another language.
  • Read through the Bible.
  • Make a new friend.
  • Smile instead of frown.
  • Get enough sleep every night.
  • Stop using credit cards.
  • Don't hog conversations.
  • Enjoy the small pleasures in each day.
  • Learn how to make simple household repairs.
  • Throw away some junk.
  • Take a continuing education course.
  • Learn about your local native plants and animals.
  • Don't gossip or snoop into others' affairs.
  • In your heart forgive those who have wronged you.
  • Research your family heritage.
  • Really listen to what others are saying to you.
  • Stop negative thinking - try to see more of the positive.
  • Have a family game or craft night once a week.
  • Give regularly to a charity.
  • Visit a museum or botanical garden once a month.
  • Limit fast foods to twice a month.
  • Once a month try a new type of ethnic food.
  • Prepare your home for emergencies and learn CPR.
  • Read a new book every month.
  • Learn how to paint, bake bread, read music, etc.
  • Clean up your yard and/or fix up your house.
  • Turn off the television during dinner.
  • Be more thoughtful and considerate of others.
  • Put a stop to an unhealthy relationship.
  • Start a consistent exercise program.
  • Make every Monday and Wednesday low-fat days.
  • Get your paperwork organized.
  • Plan a family vacation or short day trips.
  • Do something special every week for your loved one.
  • Spend more time outdoors.
  • Stop grumbling and complaining.
  • Sort out and organize all of your closets.
  • Count your fortunes every night when you go to bed.
  • Think a happy thought each morning when you awake.
  • Put more money into a savings account.
  • Stop speeding and drive more courteously.
  • Each day take five minutes to look out the window.
  • Clear out your computer files and delete old e-mails.
  • Read a bedtime story to your children every night.
  • Create a family cookbook or memory book.
  • Develop a family mission statement or family motto.


    These pages are a continuous work in progress.
    Copyright © 2000- by Teri Ann Berg Olsen
    All rights reserved.

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