Question: I make resolutions that I feel will help me get more out of life, but no matter how well I start off, I can’t seem to keep up the momentum. What can I do to stick with my resolutions and get the results I want?
Answer: You’re not alone. It’s difficult when we feel we’re not making progress in the areas we know we need to improve in. As much as we try and as many resolutions as we make, we sometimes can’t seem to break bad habits or form new good ones. That can become so frustrating and disappointing that we eventually lose faith that we can change. Because we’ve tried before and failed, we feel we might as well give up.
Though you may sometimes feel that way, the change you desire is possible. You are God’s creation, and like the loving Father He is, He’s very interested in every aspect of your life. He’s ready, willing, and able to give you what you need to be truly happy, make progress, and live up to your full potential. So if you’re willing to let God help you, then you’ll get the results you’re looking for. All He needs is your cooperation and for you to put forth effort in the right direction. If you’ll do what you can do, then He will do the rest.
Here are some simple tried and proven techniques for solid progress:
1. Be fully persuaded that the change is needed. Make a list of reasons for making the change. Start with your own reasons, then study God’s Word on the subject and add His reasons. Your own reasons may be good, but Word-based reasons will reinforce your conviction and give you something solid to stand on when you’re tempted to not live up to your resolution.1
2. Ask for and claim God’s help. If you’re convinced that a certain change is what God wants for you (and this should be one of the main reasons for wanting to make any change in the first place), you can ask for and expect His help. It is possible for you to change in any area you and God agree needs to be changed, because even the things that are impossible for you are possible for God.2 He is always there to help you. Regularly remind Him of His promises in His Word to answer your prayers. Such reminders are a sign of your faith in Him, which pleases Him.3
3.Set realistic goals. Unrealistic goals are demoralizing and counterproductive. Don’t attempt to break the world record in the high jump on your first try. You’ll only become discouraged and quit far short of your potential. Start with the bar at a height you know you can clear with a little work, then raise it a notch at a time.
4. Don’t try to improve in too many areas at once. Determine what your priorities are, and stick to those. Once you’re making consistent progress in the big areas, add the others one or two at a time.
5. Program the change into your daily or weekly schedule. Unless you set aside specific times to take positive action to enact the change—to get more exercise, for example—it will probably get lost in the press of everything else you have to do, like it always has. Begin and end those times with prayer.
6. Confide in someone. Few things encourage and strengthen resolve like sharing your desire to change with somebody who respects you, understands your reasons, and will cheer you on. This is why support groups such as those offered by Alcoholics Anonymous are so successful.
7. Be open to help from others. It takes humility to ask your spouse, a close friend, or a coworker for their honest opinion about how you’re progressing toward your goal, but they can provide insight as well as encouragement. Nearly everyone in the record books and history books had a coach, trainer, mentor, or supportive family member.
8. Make a pact. Work together with someone who shares the same goal. Challenge each other. Spur each other on. Help one another up when one stumbles. Victories are sweetest when they’re shared.
9. Be patient. Progress usually comes one step at a time, and sometimes that one step is the result of two steps forward and one step back. As long as you’re making some forward progress, you’re on your way toward reaching your goal. Consistency is the key. It takes six weeks to two months to build a new habit.
10. Don’t quit. If you slip back into your old habits, don’t condemn yourself and don’t give up. Review your list of reasons for wanting to change. Reevaluate your means for making that change. Fix whatever went wrong. Pray and claim appropriate promises from God’s Word. Then get up and try again. Every setback that you don’t let stop you actually strengthens you.