Friday, January 11, 2013

Faith + New Years Resolutions?

The New Year is a natural time to set about life with new goals and ambitions for oneself. The stereotypical American resolutions seem to be: 1) save more money 2) Exercise more 3) spend less  4) Eat less. My family always makes a point of doing New Years resolutions, we came up with five as a family and five each individually. Often times they included things like –Visit one National Park or –De-clutter downstairs garage or something along those lines.

I think the goal setting New Years resolutions provides is important. Its healthy to set out to accomplish things; it gives us drive, purpose, intention and potentially fulfillment if we feel we have accomplished said goal. It also causes us to strive, to reach out for new things in life and grow in the process. I believe goal setting says a lot about people’s character as well- because it answers the question- what is it important for you to achieve in your life? What are you willing to make happen?

Yet I haven’t yet made any formal resolutions this year yet- in part because I am dissatisfied and disenchanted with the process. I am not quite sure why I am making new goals, and also have less faith in my ability to really accomplish them. Plus, given the medley of things I'm already doing in life, why should I take on more?

I think the biggest questionI am left with is WHY am I making New Year’s resolutions? What is really behind it? By, for example, saving more money, what do I believe I am more fundamentally achieving? Some of the answers with this example that come to mind are: newfound sense of security, peace, happiness etc.  MAYBE I would achieve those things, ultimately psychology points to that having more money in the bank does not achieve those things. There seems to be something missing in this whole process.

Over the last couple of days, I have been wondering the part in which God plays in my New Year’s resolutions. How much am I driven to resolve in the New Year to connect with him in a new ways? To better serve him? To more fully practice my faith? My go to approach in New Years resolutions has not been to include him. To be very honest with myself, God plays a very little part in all of my new goals for the year. Rather, the goals I would make are specifically targeted at myself and the quality of my life- and are things I set out to accomplish alone. Are things that I WANT, that I believe will make me happier at the end of the year if I have accomplished them. I am left asking myself how much I am crossing the line between healthy self-development vs. full self-absorption.

I wonder how taking on an attitude of Partnering with God in my new years resolutions would affect the process? Also, how would making resolutions inspired by my faith change the tenure of what I am setting out to achieve in the new year?  What if my new year’s resolutions included a bigger picture than just me? That my goals were motivated primarily by my relationship with God and others?
So here it goes, as an expirement I'm going to make 3 faith driven New Year's resolutions (I might make more faith or non-faith ones in the future, but this is a start). Not in order to be a better person, not just to satisfy myself, but rather in an effort to recognize and contribute to my relationship with God, others and the bigger picture:
1) Go on a walk at least once a month with the intention of                                                         relishing and celebrating God's creation/the beauty of the world
2) Pray/Meditate at least once a day- especially focusing on what I am greatful for
3) Show someone once a day that I love them (could be a phone call, act of kindness, letter, favor etc. Also can include new people)

I don't know how these goals will make a difference for me, what I do hope is they somehow make a small spiritual difference- with God and with the lives of others. And that seems to make them actually worthwhile.


  1. FANTASTIC! You write beautifully. I am adopting your resolutions for myself as well! ALL good wishes, Charles

  2. Well, I understand your reluctance initially to come up with a list of goals that could be checked off a list. I used to always make New Year's resolutions, but in the past five years I decided that these were self imposed and were too focused on my own accomplishment. Now I am more likely to say, "I would like to do this in the coming year, Lord willing." There may be other things that God has in mind for me, and I am willing to suspend what I do in order to perhaps take in a more important agenda that is set before me, should it present itself. Part of this change in mind set is the feeling that I am not in control of all the factors in my life, and also the realization that it is not the external accomplishment of any particular goal that counts, but rather the inner growth in character that matters.
    Nonetheless, to set one's soul on spiritual growth is a worthy goal, and when your heart's desire is in this direction, God will surely honor it.