Evaluating Your New Year’s Resolutions

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There are two types of people in this world: those who are organized, and those who are wandering around aimlessly in a confused and helpless state because they’ve never organized a thing in their life. Okay, that was a bit dramatic, but you know what I mean. Based on my descriptions of the two groups, you probably guessed that I am part of the first group, and you are right; I love organization. Messes stress me out, creating and checking off to-do lists is therapeutic for me, and I can’t live without my folder systems. Interestingly, my husband is basically the founder of the second group. One look at the inside of his car essentially sends me into cardiac arrest; it looks like an episode of Hoarders or maybe a crime scene investigation. Sometimes he makes to-do lists, but I don’t really know why because he leaves them all over the place and can never find them. I guess opposites do attract, but that is another topic for another day.

Considering my love for organization, you might think I’m a professional New Year’s resolution maker with clear, detailed goals for the upcoming year that I accomplish with ease and perhaps even ahead of schedule. Sadly, I must confess that this is not the case. I do make great lists, but that’s the problem. I have learned that it is really easy for me to get caught up in the act of list-making and never actually get anything done. The things on my list may be “good” things, but they often aren’t really accomplishing anything. Sometimes I realize I’m just making lists for the sake of making lists and not really moving myself towards action at all.

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but sometimes I think it would be beneficial for us to just forget the lists. Yes, lists can be extremely helpful to keep us on track and focused, but I do think they can become obstacles that keep us busy and distracted from true, meaningful action, and I think they do this more than we realize. They are dangerous because they disguise themselves as helpful when they can actually sabotage our efforts to achieve our goals, so we never expect that they could be harmful to us. We feel a sense of accomplishment as we check off the bullet points on our lists, but if these bullet points aren’t actually moving us to significant growth and specific goals, what good is this “accomplishment?”

I am not advocating that you throw out lists entirely if you are list-oriented like me; I simply mean to encourage all of us to honestly examine our lists and decide if they are actually aiding us in accomplishing important goals or if they are secretly serving to busy and distract us from more important action. As you are sitting down today and making your New Year’s resolutions, really think about what your main goals are for 2019. I suggest making a list that first and foremost highlights a few very specific goals and then includes sub-points under these main goals with plans of action to help you reach them. This will help you stay focused on the main things you are working toward and keep them on the forefront of your mind instead of getting caught up with random things on a to-do list that don’t actually move you forward.

Lastly, I want to send you into 2019 with a very important reminder: When you inevitably fail, you must not forget that there is grace. Do not allow yourself to reach a point of discouragement that you give up. As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12, God’s grace is sufficient for us, and His power is made perfect in our weakness. Ask the Lord and loved ones for help, embrace His grace, get back up, and keep moving forward.

Emma Payne

Paul Anderson Youth Home