I stopped making New Year’s resolutions for myself a few years ago. I found them to be pointless goals that I was not going to chase just because the calendar flipped. Instead, I use the New Year to examine my weekly rhythms and routines to see what I need to change.
My personal disavowal of New Year’s resolutions does not extend to other people. No public figures are coming to me for advice, but if they were, these are the New Year’s resolutions I would recommend.
We find thousands of examples of his kindness and compassion throughout the Bible, encounters where his miraculous mercy and benevolent grace carved his name on the hearts of his followers. We can remember scores of times when he answered our prayers, forgave our sins, and met our needs as well. And yet, if you’re like me, there is this nagging doubt in the back of your mind, this unstated but persistent question: Will he do it again? Will God do for me in the future what he has done for us in the past? Will he meet my needs in the new year, whatever they turn out to be? Will he lead me into my very best life? Will he redeem my struggles and faults? Will he carve his name on my heart in love?
Years ago, a dear friend quoted Jesus’ call to give others “a cup of water in my name” (Mark 9:41 NIV) and remarked that we often focus on the water or the name, but seldom both. How can we do both? Let’s consider three “resolutions” as ways to end this year and begin the next.
Harvard professor Arthur C. Brooks has a terrific article in The Atlantic titled, “New Year’s Resolutions That Will Actually Lead to Happiness.” After surveying literature regarding our typical difficulties in keeping resolutions for the new year, he determines that “the key to success is positive motivation.” Then he identifies the two motivations that most lead to happiness: forgiveness and gratitude.