A new year is around the corner. Another chance to start afresh. I will make resolutions that will transform how I feel, look, and perform next year. I will fix what is broken and change what no longer works. Next year will be better than the previous one.
I used to start every new year with optimism, determined to eat better, exercise daily, cut down TV time, read more books, and complete several Bible studies. New Year resolutions became the instruments of change for a better future. A better me.
A few weeks into the new year, however, disappointment and regret eventually overshadowed my positive attitude. I could not sustain the motivation that peaked in the days following Christmas, struggling to meet the goals I had set for myself.
By March, everything returned to the way it had been the previous year. The resolutions became a distant memory. Only the guilt remained. So, a few years ago, I gave up making New Year resolutions. If there are no goals, there will be no defaulting and there will certainly be no self-condemnation.
This year, I want to attempt once more to set goals for the new year. But if I want a different outcome, I have to do things differently.
I examined my previous motives for making resolutions and wondered if I had been setting meaningful goals. After long periods of rainy-day-pondering (it’s been raining in Northern California for more than a week!) and praying, it dawned on me that my previous resolutions had all been about me. About upgrading and reinventing myself so I could feel good about myself.
As a Christian, I am called not to pursue my own happiness but God’s kingdom and righteousness (Matthew 6:33). I am called to love God and love people. My purpose as a citizen of God’s kingdom and a pilgrim on earth is to focus on the things that are long-lasting and have eternal significance.
On Christmas Eve, I attended an online worship service in which a pastor suggested that it would not take us five minutes in heaven before we ask ourselves why we had not focused our energy on earth on things that really mattered.
When we view our short time on earth as preparation or training for eternity, we will gain the right perspective for goal-setting. Our life’s aim is not to make ourselves happy or just achieve the dreams we want for ourselves. Rather, our purpose in life is to live for God and build His kingdom. To do His will and follow His plans for our lives. To live such godly lives that we draw attention to Him. To proclaim Christ to others through our words and actions.
These are the things that really matter because they fix our gaze on eternity and train us for our heavenly future. This is how we store up for ourselves eternal treasures (Matthew 6:19-20).
An eternal perspective can help us draft goals that align with God’s purpose for our lives. Making New Year resolutions with eternity in mind recalibrates our priorities and opens our eyes to the big picture. We can look forward to the next year with the joyful anticipation that God will use us for His kingdom purposes and His glory.
I went back to the drawing board and wrote my resolutions for 2022:
To build up my son’s faith, so that he will grow up to be a man who loves God above all else.
To improve my craft, so that I can better serve believers through my gift of writing.
To intentionally engage with the families in my church, so that I can support my family of believers.
To start volunteering my time on a regular basis at a nonprofit, so that I can make a difference in my neighborhood and city.
I’ve chosen these goals because God has been gently nudging me to concentrate my time and energy on these areas of my life. I’m working on breaking down these objectives into specific habits and routines but writing them down on paper helps me set my priorities and schedule my calendar.
A new year is around the corner. I’m more excited than optimistic this time around about my resolutions because they line up with God’s mission for my life. I feel joyful and hopeful in surrendering the next year to Him.
It is important to acknowledge that I’m incapable of doing what God calls me to do in my own strength. I must depend on the Holy Spirit to equip, motivate, and guide me as I strive to seek God’s kingdom and righteousness.
Unlike weight loss or other tangible goals, I might not be able to step on a weighing scale and see the immediate outcome of my efforts. There will also be times when sticking to my plans will be difficult. I will fail and I will want to give up.
But I can press on, relying on the Holy Spirit to remind me that eternal rewards await me when I meet God face-to-face in Heaven. I can count on God to supply me with the energy and motivation I need to carry out His purposes.
In what way can an eternal perspective help you set meaningful goals for the new year? How can you match your resolutions with God’s priorities for your life? What goals can direct you to invest in things that have eternal consequences?
Are you ready to set meaningful New Year resolutions? Use one of two printable templates I created for you to write down your goals and step into the upcoming year with clear direction. Click here to grab the FREE templates.