Many of us probably start the year with some hopeless wishes to improve ourselves. Those who think this is a silly tradition, are probably fed up with giving up on unrealistic goals or might have realised there are other joys in life than counting calories. But what if the New Year’s resolutions concerns what makes you profoundly happy? What if we can strive to become the one we wish we were, and at the same time grow closer to God?
It’s actually quite amazing how New Year sparks a global interest in bringing change into our lives. Even unbelievers realise that we are created for something more than what we often choose. When we reflect on who we are and the talents and opportunities God has given us, it is almost impossible not to be inspired. We don’t need to measure ourselves with others, but discover who we are at our best, with the help of God. Most cultures have New Year traditions where you acknowledge your loved ones, good memories and milestones benefits of the year that have passed, and together you enter the new year together with exciting expectations. For Christians, it is first and foremost God who is the object of the gratitude. And we ask God where he wants to take us next year, what steps are we to make in faith. In order for our vision of being faithful to God to be realised, we must define small, feasible steps that we put our will behind.
Jaff Cavins at Ascension proposes 8 questions we should ask ourselves to create a good New Year’s resolution. There’s a chance that you’ve already broken a few promises, so when we make a better set of resolutions that are holy, productive and life-changing (hence 2.0), let us think through a little bit more:
2. Will this resolution enhance my vocation in life? In other words, will it help me as a parent, spouse, single person, priest, or religious? Starting with your vocation is a great place to determine future action. For example, if you are a father some of your decisions are already made. Becoming a better father is something that you know God wants you to do, even more than fitting into that pair of pants in your closet.
3. Does this resolution have eternal impact on my life and those around me? The decisions that we make today have eternal impact, so it becomes important to budget your time and resources accordingly.
4. Have I prayed about it and asked God to lead me in my decisions? James 4:15 says that our future decisions should keep in mind the phrase, “if it is the Lord’s will.” We must always qualify our plans with this phrase as sometimes it may be the will of the Lord for us to accomplish a certain thing, but we may be off when it comes to the timing.
5. Will this resolution take time and resources away from those around me who really depend upon me? We only have so many hours in a day and so many dollars in the bank, so it becomes very important to ask ourselves if the main things in our lives are being taken care of or neglected? If you have a family, it’s a good idea to consult your spouse if you are about to allocate funds or time for your special project.
6. Am I prepared to accompany my resolution with prayer and fortitude? The prophet Zechariah once said, “not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, says the Lord of hosts.” Simply making the resolution will not bring about the desired results. Rather, fortitude and a constant reliance upon the spirit of God is what brings about the victory in our lives. Ask yourself if you are prepared to soak this change in your life with daily prayer.
7. Am I prepared to sacrifice and offer up that which is uncomfortable in order to attain my resolution? Whether it be in sports or in the spiritual life, becoming good at something does not come without practice and sacrifice. As “location” is the key to real estate, so practice is the key to the virtuous life. Change comes by habitually practicing the good.
8. Does this resolution further your walk with Christ and glorify the Lord or does vanity compel you? It’s a wonderful thing to be physically fit, but if being fit is for the purpose of getting noticed, then your heart is in the wrong place. Become fit so that you can be a more effective witness for Christ. Remember all those times you said, “I’m too tired to do (fill in the blank)?
If you found this inspiring, you should listen to the whole podcast and check out his video-reflections on the Sunday gospels.