There’s something about the blank pages of a brand-new calendar that inspires many of us to commit to change. Raise your hand if you’ve ever made a New Year’s resolution:

  •  I will join a gym – and show up there three times a week. Oh, and I’ll work out as long as I’m there.
  • I will quit eating gluten, sugar and dairy. I’m gonna do Whole 30 with such dedication it’ll be like Whole 3,000,000.
  • I will watch less T.V. Or maybe better T.V. More PBS, less Home Shopping Network.  
  • I will skydive. Walk the Appalachian trail. Learn to tap dance. 

Even though experts tell us most of our resolutions are doomed to fail, we tell ourselves that we’re going to beat the odds this year.

It occurred to me when I was writing about the subject of regret (see link at the end of this post) that lurking behind just about every resolution is an “if only”.  I suspect most of those big vows we make to ourselves are doomed to failure because they are an emotional reaction to a poor choice we’ve made in the past. For example, right now I’m lugging around some extra baby weight from…uh…thirty-one years ago. It is sorely tempting now that Christmas cookie season is over to pledge my troth to re-doubling my exercise sessions*, while swearing off all stress eating and cooling my relationship with my good friends, the Carb Family.

When I do a bit of analysis about some of those “I should lose weight and/or exercise” vows I feel bubbling under my skin at this time of year, I realize that those promises to myself won’t fix the reasons I’m carrying those extra pounds. Those reasons include indulgence in at least two of the Seven Deadly Sins, sloth and gluttony, as well as many years of poor health, leading to habitual inactivity. Allowing God to deal with me about the reasons for this extra weight may net the change in me that a willpower-themed resolution list can’t. As part of my rehab from this summer’s knee surgery, I found myself standing on an indoor track one Wednesday morning in mid-November. I took one step, then another, and now, a month later, I am on my way to building up a new habit. It wasn’t as much about a resolution created because I was ashamed of my body as it was a desire to reclaim the body I have, often-frail and unpredictable as it can be.

While change might happen because we’ve finally hit the “Fed Up” red line on our internal shame gauge, we stand the best chance of healthy change if we can get a glimpse at why we’ve ended up in need of a resolution in the first place.

What do you think? Do goal-setting resolutions work for you, or do you think it is more helpful to consider why you’re feeling the need for a particular resolution in the first place? Got a resolution story that’s been a great success for you? We’d love to hear it!  

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

If you’re looking for some help processing your regrets, this book by PerGen founder Michelle Van Loon offers practical guidance. Click the link to learn more – and know that your purchase using this link benefits this website.