I think New Year’s resolutions get a bad rap. Why not try to set new goals each year that can change our lives for the better? Since we only need thirty days to create a new habit, if we can do something for a month, we can make it a lifelong practice.

I’m no expert on setting and keeping goals; I have failed many of my resolutions–usually right about now. A couple weeks into the New Year and we’re all ready to give up on our plans. But as I look back over 2015, I see the fruit of goal-setting. Quadruple the number of concerts played and songs written from the year before. Working out and quiet times were regular occurrences. I became more intentional about nurturing and creating friendships, and even began taking more initiative and speaking up. (Still miles to go, but truly miraculous for this introvert.)

As simple as it might sound, I was able to accomplish the goals that were important to me by taking time at the start of the year to define what was important to me. I failed often, but prayed even more often for direction and God’s strength to propel me. And I kept the big picture in mind.

As we dream for ourselves, here are a few tips that have helped me in my goal-accomplishing process. I’d love to know if these tools work for you too and if you have others, please share them with me.

  • Take your resolutions one day at a time: Don’t think about how you’ll change all year – just do it today.
  • Trust the process: I’m learning that once I accomplish a task several times, it becomes less daunting and easier to tackle. I begin to need less discipline, as repeated actions evolve into habits!
  • Set reasonable expectations: Start with what you know you can do. If you’d like to spend time writing, playing music, working out, or reading your Bible, but you haven’t done these things consistently in the past, set a goal you won’t dread. Start with 15 minutes a day rather than an hour. You’ll give up on the hour, but 15 minutes feels easy. Trust me.
  • Reward yourself: The more you do this, the better. If you want to conquer literary classics or books by 16th-century theologians, give yourself a break with a fun book in between.
  • Forgive yourself: You will miss days. You will fail. Or at least I do. Don’t waste time regretting. Keep going.

Here are some of my 2016 goals:

  • Longer times of reading, prayer and meditation in the morning. There’s so much more of God I want to know!
  • De-clutter my house and my days. I’m packing too much in.
  • Add 5 new recipes to my cooking repertoire that I can make from memory.
  • Cook for friends at least twice a month.
  • Rock-climb, snow ski, or waterski by the end of the year. Or maybe all three!
  • Practice serving others until it is a habitual and natural part of every day.

What plans are you excited about for 2016?

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