Now that we have entered in a new year, you can be sure that thousands have made resolutions to do better in their lives. Given how few resolutions succeed, it seemed appropriate to repost this article from last year. It's the perfect addition to those finishing up Rocket Goals...
Resolutions & PromisesBy Dan Vis
January 02, 2023
Yesterday marked the beginning of a new year, a new month, a new week, and a new day for that matter--and as such it held all the potential of a blank slate. Any it's true: anything is possible in the coming year.
Many choose to fill that slate with Resolutions.
People have been making resolutions to mark the new year for centuries, going back at least as far as the Romans. And people have been failing their resolutions for just as long.
According to statistics, somewhere between 50% and 60% of Americans make New Years resolutions, and of those, more than half make multiple resolutions. And yet, few keep them successfully. According to one recent study, as many as 80% of those who make New Years resolutions fail to keep them. Half of those give up within one week!
Still resolutions can be helpful. Research suggests people who make resolutions are 10 times more likely to change their behavior than those who don't make a commitment. And even if our first attempt fails, we may learn something in the process that strengthens us for next time. Of those who do succeed, only 40% do so on their first try. A full 20% don't succeed until their fifth or sixth try!
Improving Our Odds
What can we do to "improve our odds"? Here's five suggestions.
1. Be clear and specific about your resolutions. "I plan on losing 20 lbs by June 1st" is better than "I plan on losing weight." And writing things down can help. Writing forces us to be precise, and documents our resolution. One study showed this simple act can increase our chance of success by more than 40%.
2. Focus on the process, rather than the outcome. If your goal is losing weight, for example, identify one or more specific lifestyle changes that will help, and keep your focus there: walking 3 times a week, cutting-out some fattening food you like, eliminating midnight snacks, etc. Without a change in habits, any progress you make is unlikely to last.
3. Stay focused. Trying to make more than 2 or 3 changes at a time can be counterproductive. And you will have the best success if the resolutions you work on are related. That is, 2-3 resolutions connected with weight loss, are better than one resolution on health, one on marriage, and one on finances. Research suggests connected resolutions help reinforce each other.
4. Monitor your progress. Having an objective measure of success that you track over time and record consistently (daily or weekly) can help in a number of ways. It forces you to review your resolutions regularly. You get feedback on what works and what doesn't. And early success is a powerful motivator, giving encouragement and building momentum.
5. Make a solid commitment. One dictionary defines the word resolutions this way: "a firm decision to do or not to do something". But all too often, there is nothing "firm" about it. Rather than seeing it as a fun but trivial exercise, take your resolutions more seriously. Choose them carefully, and determine to follow through. Solomon put it this way: "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might" (Ecclesiastes 9:10Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.). Similarly, Paul wrote: "whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men" (Colossians 3:23And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;).
“Take your resolutions seriously. Choose them carefully, and determine to follow through.”
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The real secret to keeping our resolutions however has nothing to do with us. It revolves around another similar word: promises. And I'm not talking about turning our resolutions into promises. I'm talking about the promises of God.
Regardless of the strategies we employ to be successful in keeping our resolutions--apart from God, our best commitments are often like ropes of sands. Human nature is just too weak.
But the Bible is full of amazing promises. And these promises are sure: "God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?" (Numbers 23:19God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?). Learning to tap into these promises gives us access to power that goes beyond our human nature. We are given "exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature" (II Peter 1:4Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.).
It is this combination of our "resolutions" with God's "promises" that leads to success. It's the blending of works and faith. Human effort and divine power. Combined, you can pursue the change you seek with every confidence of success!
"Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass" (Psalms 37:5Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.).
CommentsDo you make New Years resolutions? If so, how successful have you been at keeping them? What can you do to "improve your odds"? Share a thought in the comments below...
|Posted by Dan Vis on 01/02/23|
|One nice thing about a class like Rocket Goals is that you spread out your goals through the whole year, and you have a process in place to keep revisiting those goals as your progress through the year. I think that's the real secret to follow through--establishing the process, not just setting a goal. Appreciate your post Doranita!|
|Posted by Dan Vis on 01/09/20|
|You are very welcome Patricia! I wish you all the best success in whatever you set your hand to do. :)|
|Posted by Patricia K. Rogers on 01/08/20|
|I am trusting Gd this year for all the goals and plans I have. Thank you Dan for this post that will help me to focus on Gd and my plans. And I rather trust his plan for me too, Jeremiah 29:11For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end., for they are good and will give me an expected end.|
|Posted by Dan Vis on 01/06/20|
|Well said Blaine! You summed this article up quite nicely! And yes, definitely looking forward to coming. Can't wait to meet your church family!|
|Posted by Dan Vis on 12/31/19|
|I got a real kick out of your resolution to not make more resolutions Nicole! That's funny. :)
I probably go to the opposite extreme and plan out all kinds of goals for the whole year. In fact, I work out plans for every aspect of my life. I find it extremely helpful. Like they say, he who aims at nothing is sure to hit it! Did you try our Rocket Goals class yet? Free enrollment ends today...
|Posted by Dan Vis on 12/30/19|
|Putting things in writing definitely helps. And love your focus on what's truly important. Good post Carole!|
|Posted by Dan Vis on 01/01/19|
|Excellent point John. Every aspect of our life needs to be fully optimized to the glory of God.
I am actually going to hit on this much more fully in ROCKET this year, with an all new study on day 7 (and other days). I think you are going to love it!
|Posted by Dan Vis on 12/31/18|
|Carole, sounds like you are geared up and ready for ROCKET! :)|
|Posted by Patricia Jones on 01/06/18|
|Part of a message on resolutions by Pastor O'Ffill: "Today I was thinking about what to focus on this year, besides the usual. I have come to the conclusion that the best kind of resolution would be something that would not just benefit me my family as well. Now I’ll get to the point. By God’s grace this year, I especially want to be kind. Ephesians 4:3Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. says, “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”
I am going to put that text on the refrigerator like my wife puts pictures of the grandchildren. This kind of resolution will not happen as result of shear will power but can only really succeed as I let the Holy Spirit in His own miraculous way in an on-going way, change my heart. When the Bible speaks of my ‘heart’ I believe it means the real me."
|Posted by Dan Vis on 01/02/18|
|Hi Keith! You are welcome. And I love your focus on integrity. That's what keeping our resolutions is all about isn't it? Integrity?|
|Posted by Keith Hanson on 01/02/18|
|Thank you all for your posts. For the encouragement to use bible promises to help guide our lives. I have chosen the word integrity. In the NLT bible Psalms 119:1Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD. states "joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the Lord." I desire to be a man of integrity, one who follows God's instructions. In Proverbs 2:7He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous: he is a buckler to them that walk uprightly. "He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest. He is a shield to those who walk with integrity"|
|Posted by Valerie Wise Burrell on 01/01/18|
|Deanna, Psalms 32:8I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye. is a great verse to guide us. I have been using Proverbs 16:3,9Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established. . . . A man's heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps. and will add Psalms 32:8I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.. I pray that we will all be more focused and directed in our desires to grow in every way.|
|Posted by Elizabeth on 01/01/18|
|Thank you everyone lets not forget that we can do all things thru Christ ph Philipians 4v13|
|Posted by Qing Ling on 01/01/18|
|Great post, Dan!
I like your application of II Peter 1:4Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. with claiming God's promises. And Isaiah 55:11So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. has always been my go to verse for having confidence in claiming/praying God's Word back to Him. I have been doing the One Word 'resolution' for a few years now, and each year I have attached a key bible verse to it. My Word this year is FOCUS: Matthew 6:33But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. - although I have a second verse this year that I may still change to /use, but am going to see what I learn from God through the Rocket class process these next 10 days... 2018 is going to be my most intentional year yet!
|Posted by Dan Vis on 01/01/18|
|Great posts everyone. We can have confidence God will guide us (Deanna), God does help us to experience success (Ann), claiming His promises does give us consistency and security (Dan), it is so helpful to put our resolutions in our prayer journal (Suzi), and armed with divine power, we are indeed invincible (John).
Thanks for sharing your experience too Gonza! One reason we fail in our resolutions is we don't really have a good strategy for implementation. If you haven't signed up yet for ROCKET 2018, it's still open. We'll be talking about how to do that exactly!
|Posted by John Gilmore on 01/01/18|
|I appreciate the combination of our resolution with God's promise. If God wants something to happen in our lives and we want it, too, nothing can stop it from happening! Romans 8:37Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. and 4.|
|Posted by Dan Pratt on 01/01/18|
|Thanks for this post! Another thing God's promises and our resolutions give us is consistency. We may find ourselves in a situation or in a place where we never imagined we'd be one year, or even a few weeks ago, but doing the same things and knowing God is right there with us gives us a real sense of security and peace. Isaiah 26:3Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.|
|Posted by Ann Lavenburg on 01/01/18|
|I look back into my written goals and I can see progress! It is not perfect but definite progress has been made and that is encouraging.|
|Posted by Deanna Dekle on 01/01/18|
|Psalms 32:8I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.. Definitely a great promise. Yes asking God to be our guide in our choices, we can with confidence claim His promises for success.|
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