New Year’s resolutions have never been my thing—maybe because the thought of sticking with anything for a year is daunting for me. The reality is I have failed too many times with New Year’s resolutions, so why try to convince myself that this year would be different?
It is not that I don’t want to do whatever it is for a year (like reading the Bible in a year) or that I don’t want to see the results of a year-long commitment (like losing twenty pounds), but there is something about having life all planned out that frankly never goes my way. As much as I want to control my circumstances, it is not the reality of the world I live in. Instead, the Lord has taught me flexibility and how to pivot when all the well-laid plans change.
One passage of Scripture that has really encouraged me is 2 Chronicles 15. God brings revival to His people in Judah under the rule of King Asa. The prophet, Azariah, shared, “But as for you, be strong; don’t give up, for your work has a reward (v. 7).” When Asa heard the prophecy, he gathered courage, trusting God, and removed the idols. He led the people to return to the Lord. He reset the nation and the people, and they experienced peace for thirty-five years (v. 19). It was a daily commitment to give up on the idols, remove them, and obey God. But it was the only thing that brought the peace they desired.
Isn’t that what we often are looking for as we begin a new year—a little more peace and a little more ease than the year before?
A typical blog post for resetting in the New Year would focus on planning to accomplish those spiritual and physical goals that were thrown out of balance last year. Instead of goals to be accomplished in a year, I want to encourage you to set daily and weekly goals as you reset in the New Year. I know it is less ambitious and not as challenging for some of you but hang in there with me and consider trying it.
My mother-in-law used to say that her goal was to accomplish one thing each day. I thought, What? Are you kidding me? One thing a day? That is not a goal! Then she clarified that “the one thing” was outside of her normal daily routine and regular practices. Hum. My daily routine includes waking up, getting ready and dressed, devotional time with Bible reading, journaling, prayer, planning meals, working at my job, and normal “I am trying to survive this day” kinds of things. My list is mostly filled with daily habits, non-negotiables. None of them count as the “accomplishing one thing each day” goal.
Paying bills. Grocery shopping. Sending a birthday card. Planning a celebration. Reading a book. These are the extras in many ways. You do not need to do them every day so one a day is more manageable. What I discovered was that I needed to add a walk as part of my non-negotiable daily routine, because my physical health is important to survival. Walking could not be an add-on if time allowed; it had to be on the priority list. A bonus from this is helping with the extra twenty pounds issue that I face annually.
What I also discovered was I did not make rest a daily priority. My tired mind and body hindered me from accomplishing many of my goals because my resting and sleeping were so erratic—five hours one night, seven another. I was simply too tired and could not think or function efficiently. Add eight hours of sleep to the priority list.
I have learned daily goals help me keep my priorities in order. Accomplishing one thing each day is a time management help that guards me from added stress and that feeling of constant exhaustion. When I read about God’s people in 1 Chronicles 15, I am reminded that every day was a choice to obey God—keeping His ways and wisdom the priority.
When my three daughters lived at home, shopping for groceries was a chore. We were always running out of milk, eggs, or bread. My daughters and their friends would spontaneously decide to make pizza, cookies, or brownies. I am all for the fun times with friends. I would make a quick trip to get whatever was needed. We were only ten minutes from the market. It was an easy twenty minutes, and they were back in the kitchen. However, I quickly learned that their snack cravings were eating into our family food budget and my time that needed to be spent on other priorities. I do not remember when I made the decision, but it was likely a day when I heard my mother-in-law’s voice in my head saying, one thing a day. I put my grocery list on the fridge where all could see and add their own wish list of items. I let them know Thursdays would be my day to shop. I also began practicing the word no. If my fun girls and friends wanted brownies and the box or ingredients were not available, they learned to read recipes or have a different snack. That once a week to the market changed my life!
I have weekly spiritual goals as well. Attending church and being actively involved with my church family is part of my spiritual growth. Saying yes to attending weekly worship services, small group, and serving at my church developed a rhythm of spiritual growth that continues to be consistent and healthy. I also had to say no to other good things so that I could be involved in the better choice of weekly spiritual nourishment with others in my church community. But when I look back over the years, I can see how weekly worship and Bible study has guided my spiritual formation and helped me be in a closer personal relationship with Jesus. Having a community of believers who pray together and challenge one another to walk in faith has made such a significant impact on my life. I know I can listen to podcasts or watch other church services online. And I do that at times as well. But the weekly face-to-face interaction with my church family cannot be replaced by a screen. These weekly interactions keep my social skills in a healthier place. They can look at me and ask questions about my walk with Jesus and my time in God’s Word. There is no screen to hide behind. Proverbs 27:17 reminds me, “Iron sharpens iron, and one person sharpens another.” These real people hold me accountable and help me reset my spiritual walk weekly.
King Asa and God’s people also depended upon one another to keep their commitments to the Lord. As a community they worshiped and obeyed God’s commands. King Asa nor others tried to follow God on their own but trusted the benefit of helping one another and walking together in faith.
We all need to reset periodically. We may need to reset our physical, mental, or spiritual goals. We may want to form new habits and practices that will enrich our life. But honestly, there are times we do not feel like resetting at all. We may be experiencing grief, loss, or disappointment, and the effort it takes to make New Year’s resolutions and follow-through with them is overwhelming. However, even when we don’t feel like it, a reset can be good and healthy. That is why a daily or weekly goal may be just what is needed as we head into 2023.
How are you as you step into 2023? What might be a daily or weekly goal you could set to strengthen your relationship with Jesus or others?
Michelle Hicks is the managing editor for Journey devotional magazine with Lifeway Women. Michelle served as a freelance writer, campus minister, and corporate chaplain before coming to Lifeway. She is a graduate of the University of North Texas and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Michelle has a deep hunger for God’s Word and wants others to discover the abundant life they can have with Jesus as their Lord and Savior.