Why New Year’s Resolutions fail and how to keep them!


It’s that time of the year again when we all get really skinny, super spiritual, and have it all together…for like an hour.

New year’s resolutions are a cool idea, at least for the gym companies. We often get really motivated (which is awesome) and then get really deflated (which is slightly less awesome). But we find ourselves in this pattern year in and year out without truly understanding why.

So, here’s a perspective of a few things I’ve been learning as a Christian and as a shrink. (Psychiatrist, the less technical term)

1.  You’re not starting at zero

No one starts 2020 saying, I could really gain a few more pounds. (Wish that was MY problem)

Before we go off making 100 different resolutions that we’ll forget by February (if we make it that far), it’s important to know that there there’s a reason we’re not CURRENTLY doing these things.

If we don’t begin by addressing the barriers, it doesn’t matter what goals we make.

We often start by creating an ambitious solution to a problem we don’t even fully understand.

“I want to exercise more”- but I need to dive into reasons this is not happening now. Are they logistical? Motivation?

“I want to pray more consistently”– I hear ya preacher man. But what’s the current prayer routine? Do I have the tools? Do I forget? Is there a culture or habit driving my behavior? Is it impacted by internal as well as external elements?

A wise spiritual father of mine once said (slight paraphrase):

You have certain non-negotiable before you leave your house. If you’re running late, you may skimp out on breakfast but you won’t leave the house without pants…(I hope). Is prayer as optional as a morning muffin, or as non-negotiable essential as pants? Can you leave home without it?” #MindBlown, Abouna.

2. Measure the PROCESS, not just the outcome

Sometimes when we set a goal and focus on measuring the ultimate outcome without having any real way to measure things along the way. If my goal is finishing a book, that goal itself is “all or nothing.” The way I will measure in the end will be, I finished, or I did not finish. Buuuut, if my ultimate goal is to finish reading a book and my PROCESS goal is to read 10 minutes a day, now we’re talking.

I can reevaluate in a week if my process is on track and adjust.

How can put my goal into smaller process goals?

How will I evaluate this?

How often?

This leads to that third thing.

3.  Plan to make adjustments

Anyone reading this just go to confession once and felt like you really nailed? Just never had to go back.

If you are, then hey, pray for the rest of us. Because we need to make constant adjustments and get back on track spiritually, physically and emotionally.

Sometimes we wait to make adjustments when the next year’s ball drops. Might be a little late by then.

St. Anthony the great would speak of going to bed as though we are going to our grave. As fun a thought as that can be, it helps us examine the day before we end it. Even if we don’t necessarily do this daily, it’s key to check in with ourselves at regular intervals.

4. Be a little nicer to you

This may sound strange. But one of the reasons we are afraid to examine ourselves is that we are afraid of us. (is that confusing?)

If you find yourself saying terrible things to yourself that you would never say to other people, then you may your own worst critic. And guess what, eventually, you won’t wanna hear you anymore.

If we take the general approach of first starting with gratitude. Thank God that He has allowed me to be able to_________. Then, prayerfully work towards improvement.

Here’s another kicker, whether we’re working on a spiritual goal or a “material” one, it’s important to remember that the baseline we have is that we are loved and accepted by Christ.

We’re not trying to earn his approval. We already have God’s approval, in the Person of Christ.

He invites us to grow in Him!

So, happy new year out there and happy resolutions. May God bless this year and decade!

What are some tips YOU have to helps us make some goals this new year??

Posted 1st January 2020 by Mena Mirhom, MD

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