With the beginning of a new calendar year many of us are thinking about what we’d like to do differently in 2013. Most commonly these resolutions involve losing weight, better money management, falling in love, or spending more quality time with family.
Historians believe that the practice of making New Year’s resolutions began in the Roman Empire around 49 B.C. during the reign of Julius Caesar. Although there are no references to New Year’s resolutions in Scripture, it’s possible that some early Christians, or even Jesus himself, made New Year’s resolutions. In our own time many people of faith make New Year’s resolutions that will enhance their spiritual lives like reading the Bible daily, praying more often, or giving more generously.
Regardless of the specific resolutions we make, one thing is clear — very few of us will actually keep them. One study from 2009 puts the success rate for those who make resolutions at about 22 percent. Not exactly inspiring statistics.
Over the years I’ve made plenty of New Year’s resolutions and rarely found myself in the 22 percent that are successful. There are many reasons for this, but I’m increasingly convinced that the way we go about making New Year’s resolutions is the problem. When making resolutions we typically focus on “what” we want to do without considering “why” or “how.”
For instance, I may resolve to lose 20 pounds in the new year without ever stating “why” I want to do it. Is it to look better? Although that might be nice, that’s really not something that inspires me. And “how” am I even going to go about doing that? Unless I have a specific plan to change my diet, exercise more, etc., it’s just not going to happen.
In his book “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years,” Christian author Don Miller invites us to consider the “why” and “how” of our lives. Miller makes the case that people who make a difference in the world usually do so because they are living good stories. So instead of making the usual resolutions this year, why not resolve to live a better story?
What are you really passionate about? What is God doing in and through you? What needs to happen in order for you to live the life God is calling you to lead?
You may end up achieving things like weight loss because you are living a better story. For instance you might be really passionate about hunger issues and want to make that a part of the story you are living. You could decide to eat out one less time a week and donate that money to ELCA World Hunger. You’ll probably lose weight in the process of living out your story, but you’re much more likely to stick with it if you’re inspired by something more meaningful than fitting into a smaller pair of jeans.
So this week spend some time thinking through the story God is calling you to live this new year.