It’s a New Year! To most of us, that means rejuvenation and new life. It’s a time to start fresh with new goals and a new outlook. We fix things that are broken in our lives, and try to make ourselves into better people. Very often, this renewal lasts a short period of time and we soon go back to our old ways. Our goals are never realized. Why? Are we not truly committed? Do we set unrealistic goals? I submit that while we often are less committed to our goals than we should be, and while we do sometimes set unrealistic goals in the first place, the answer has more to do with a lack of repentance. True repentance, true change, means a complete cleansing of our bad behavior.
Behaviors are changed as we change our hearts. Setting a goal is wonderful, but attaining a goal requires that change of heart. To achieve our goals, we need to forsake bad behaviors and replace them with good ones. New Year’s resolutions are often not realized in the long term because we have not prepared our hearts for change. We must learn to endure to the end, and we do that by changing our hearts to be in line with the improvements Heavenly Father wants to make in our lives.
My thoughts were all over the map while trying to write this article. And I mentioned that I was stuck to my daughter and told her the topic of my article. She said, “Mom, setting goals for me is being humble enough to ask Heavenly Father what changes He wants me to make. I already know what I want to do, but that’s not necessarily what He wants me to do.” So the change of heart needs to happen even before we set our goals. It is necessary to have our thoughts, minds, and hearts in line with God’s will for us. Priorities need to be set to coincide with the path God wants us to take.
Be Realistic and Committed
Setting a goal is the easy part; achieving a goal takes work. Be realistic as you set your goals, and commit to actually achieving them. You may want to set a goal to lose 100 pounds in a year, but you may only be committed to giving up ice cream for a week—and that’s not going to cut it.
The realistic goal would be to gradually wean yourself from unhealthy food items over the next year and replace them with fruits and vegetables. Instead of paying for a gym membership that you will only use in January, find a way to get outside and do something fun and active. You will be more committed to doing something you really enjoy.
Last year, my New Year’s resolution was to read the Bible in one year. Since I am retired and have the time, it was a realistic goal for me. I was fully committed to the project. As a result, I surprised myself and exceeded the goal by reading the Bible, The Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. I even had time at the end of the year to go back and re-read and study the Isaiah chapters in the Bible. This worked for two reasons: 1) It was a realistic goal, and 2) I was fully committed. Had I set the goal of reading all four books of scripture in the beginning, I would have become overwhelmed with the project and not nearly as committed. I most likely would have failed.
You are more likely to succeed in being committed, if you are realistic from the beginning. Don’t set your goals so high that you become immediately discouraged. It is much better to set a smaller goal and surprise yourself with your ability to achieve.
Achieving goals is nothing more than repenting of bad behaviors and replacing them with good ones. The first step in repentance is having a change of heart. The second step is committing to change. Then there is the follow through. Committing is a life-changing event. True repentance means never going back to your old ways. Why would you want to go backwards? Repentance is a continual forward motion. However, if you do slide backwards a bit, all hope is not lost. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get back on the right track. Heavenly Father will help you succeed. The atonement is real! Christ already paid for every mistake we ever made. All we have to do is to keep trying and never give up.
As you think about your New Year’s resolutions, use the steps of repentance to help you succeed. Just because we call it a “resolution,” doesn’t mean that it is not attainable. New Year’s resolutions are every bit as attainable as the goals we set at other times of the year. Recognize your bad behaviors, kneel in prayer and ask Heavenly Father which bad behavior takes priority for change, change your heart to be in line with what Heavenly Father wants you to do, commit to making the change in the long term, and never go back to old habits.
Tudie Rose is a mother of four and grandmother of ten in Sacramento, California. You can find her on Twitter as @TudieRose. She blogs as Tudie Rose at http://potrackrose.wordpress.com. She has written articles for Familius. You will find a Tudie Rose essay in Lessons from My Parents, Michele Robbins, Familius 2013, at http://www.familius.com/lessons-from-my-parents.