Why You Should Ditch Your New Year’s Resolution {right this minute}…and Make One that Really Counts

If you’re reading this blog during the first week of January—the week of original posting, there’s a seriously good chance that just days prior you made a New Year’s resolution. And, let’s be honest, no matter when you’re reading this blog, there is a darn good chance you’ve already broken it. (No yelling at my kids? I made it 1.75 days. Congratulations to me.)

So, seriously, what’s up with that? Why do we make resolutions, mostly don’t keep them, and then do the same thing year after year after year after every freaking year? Are we all just a bunch of useless failures when it comes to follow-through? Are we all just lazy bums? Do we have no clue how to reach our goals? Maybe. But let’s back that Self-Worth Wagon up a minute, because I really don’t believe that we are that lame. I think the real problem isn’t that we are just massive losers committing massive failures on a massive scale. Perhaps the real reason we suck at keeping our resolutions is that our resolutions totally suck in the first place.

Yep, that’s right. Blame it on your resolution. {See, it’s already not even your fault. You’re already less of a loser than you were two paragraphs ago. Well done.} So you can go ahead and ditch that resolution RIGHT THIS MINUTE, and I’m going to tell you why—as if you needed a reason (seeing as you already broke it anyway). Then, I’m going to do you a Big Fat New Year’s Favor and help you make a New New Year’s resolution. Or two. Or three. {Oh, no. I said fat. Don’t cry. It’s okay. Read on.} And then I’m going to guarantee that you will stick to said New New Year’s Resolutions. Once and for all. Until Kingdom come. So come December 31, 2014, you can pick up your phone or laptop or other dohickey, find me on Twitter or Facebook, and thank me profusely. You’re welcome already.

But wait. It’s only been a few days. Ditch your resolution already? Yes. NOW. Why? Because, like I said, it sucks. Don’t believe me? Well, here you have it…

Resolve This

Why Your New Year’s Resolution Totally Sucks

  1. You have no plans to keep it. No concrete way to carry it out. No real plan to do what you claim you want to do. You want to lose fifteen pounds? Fantastic. Me too. Nice goal. But you have no plan to accomplish that, which really means you have no real plan to lose that weight. Hence, you’ll never lose that weight. Why? Because you don’t plan to. We only really plan to do what we really want to do. So if you have no real plan, then you have no real goal. And clearly, you have no plan. How do I know this? Not because Dr. Phil said so, but…
  2. Because it’s the same resolution you made last year, and every year for the past five years or even more. So after a decade of breaking that same resolution, it’s almost certain that you have NO real plans to follow through on it. NONE. ZERO. ZILCH. Your youngest child is three years old now. You have been spending the last three years “planning” to lose that last fifteen pounds of “baby weight” from those Satanicly scrumptious deceptively non-nutritious Reese’s Cups and Fruity Pebbles that sustained you through nine months of fetus-carrying, and yet you still have yet to lose a pound. {I’m talking about a “friend” here. Don’t judge her.} So stop it. Just stop it now. Because…
  3. It’s important to differentiate between what you RESOLVE to do and what you merely wish a New Year’s Resolution Fairy would throw some magic fairy dust on and do for you. {Muffin Top Fairy? I’m finally accepting the fact that she doesn’t exist. Curse her.} Or else you’ll do what you have done every year since you’ve made that same resolution and…
  4. You will feel like a total failure ALL YEAR LONG. You’ll hate yourself for totally sucking at sticking to your goals. You’ll avoid full-length mirrors. You’ll dread running into an old high school friend. You’ll give up on everything because you totally suck at this one thing. So ditch it. Ditch that goal. Toss out the one thing you completely fail at, because you are so good at so many other things. After all, why spend 365 days feeling like a loser, beating yourself up, all year long year after year after year, for something you had no real plans to keep in the first place? (Let’s be honest, right?) So…
  5. Unless your New Year’s resolution is to Feel Like a Perennial Loser or you’re writing a self-nonhelp book on How to Set an Unrealistic Goal With an Unreal Plan that You Really Won’t Carry Out, then your New Year’s resolution is totally not worth keeping because it wasn’t even worth setting. Because, as I’ve already so guiltlessly demonstrated, you’re probably not going to keep it anyway. And it’s totally okay. {Dude. I’m like your Self Esteem’s Biggest Fan right now, right?} Totally okay? Yes, totally. Why?
  6. Because even if your resolution were suitable, doable, and completely appropriate, keeping your resolution isn’t the end-all be-all bringer of joy in your life—not this year, not ever. In fact, I’ll take that a step further and suggest that your New Year’s Resolution won’t even bring about the satisfaction you think it will should you successfully carry it out. “I’m going to do 100 crunches every night before I get in bed.” Really? Because if you do that 365 torturous times you’ll finally be happy with yourself? “I’m going to stop drinking Diet Dr. Pepper every day.” Because surveys show that tossing out the soda is the true key to personal happiness? Sure, achieving a goal—no matter the size or daringness of it—is an incredible feeling in and of itself.  And there is much to be said for dreaming radical dreams and not stopping until they are realized. {That’s a whole other blog to write.} But no goal—no matter how diligently sought after—will bring about the ultimate, sustaining happiness we all desire. Especially if, as so many of our professed desires indicate,
  7. We are entirely too focused on our own selves and oblivious to how we affect the world around us—for better or for worse. In a study by the University of Scranton, out of the Top 10 New Years Resolutions for 2014, the top seven are almost entirely self-focused. Only numbers 8 through 10 have any real benefit to others. Of course, this does not negate the value of those “self-focused” goals entirely. Obviously, we should try to be healthy, lose our obese status, pursue our talents, and spend our money wisely. But maybe it’s time we begin to think a little more outside ourselves. That’s something we can all do all year long, and we don’t even have to beat ourselves up in the process in order to make it happen.

So, what then? If our resolutions are oh-so-totally crappy and will just make us feel oh-so-totally crappy at year’s end, then let’s figure out…

How to Make a New Year’s Resolution that Really Counts

That’s right. Let’s all go ahead and toss out the old, unrealistic, (mostly) egocentric resolutions and ring in the new, more easily attainable, others-focused resolutions that will transform us into actual DECENT HUMAN BEINGS, and not just physically fit ones. That’s a worthy goal, right? No, that’s a worthier goal. No doubt.

  1. Instead of “resolving” to shed those excess pounds that you’ve carried for ten years now and warding off all desserts (because that’s seriously NO fun, y’all), how about you go ahead and buy a treat every payday but also go ahead and fill an extra bag of groceries to drop off at the local food pantry? You’ll realize how blessed you actually are. (Ever strike you as twisted that we Americans are trying to eat less while so much of the world just wants to eat?)
  2. Instead of telling yourself how fat/ugly/overweight/out of shape you are all year long and hating the size jeans you wear (and have worn for five years now), how about you accept your body for what it is and use that energy to thank God that you are alive and in one piece? Take those old “skinnier” jeans to donate to someone who could actually use them now…and who really does need them.
  3. Instead of joining that gym and pretending like you’re going to actually go often enough (or even at all) to make it worth the expense, why not cancel that membership and use that money to change someone’s life by sponsoring a child through Compassion or World Vision? If getting in shape were simply a matter of joining a gym, heck, I would have joined a long time ago. But since my rec center ID card does not in fact diminish my love handles, I ought to be realistic and use that money for a better cause than my (apparently permanent) child-bearing hips. A child in Nicaragua who can’t go to school because his family is poor doesn’t care about your gym membership; they care about getting a meal and an education.
  4. Instead of promising yourself that you’re not going to yell at your kids one single time this whole year (and breaking that promise on Day 2), what if you just talked more to them period? What if you complimented your daughter on her outfit, read a book to your four-year-old, took your teenage son to get ice cream? What if you actually asked them how their day was, what they did with their friend, what they want to do tomorrow?
  5. Instead of vaguely vowing to have a better relationship with your husband/wife, how about you go ahead and make that appointment for the marital counseling you’ve been putting off since Year One? What if you actually did go ahead and forgive them for being a jerk, or emotionally dead, or even for totally failing at being the spouse you thought you were getting? What if you didn’t wait to actually build that marriage?
  6. Instead of committing to “be nicer to others,” what if you actually made a concrete plan to smile at strangers in public? What if you were intentional about tacking on an extra sentence at the grocery checkout, so that it’s not just “thanks and bye,” but rather, “Oh, I love your haircut! It looks great on you.” Or, “you have beautiful eyes.” Try it.
  7. Instead of hoping to wake up an hour early to run every morning, but hitting your snooze fifteen times every day for fifteen weeks in a row, why not use that hour at the end of the day when you are already awake to read the Bible more? Or even just to read more?
  8. Instead of merely wishing you had better friendships (and even whining to your mom or spouse about it), why not actually pick up your phone this year to call someone you miss? Someone you haven’t really talked to since both of your lives got busy with career, kids, and chaos? Why not go ahead and plan that night out?
  9. Instead of thinking you’ll go reconcile that relationship someday in the far-off future, why not do it this year?
  10. On the other hand, instead of putting up with that abusive and dysfunctional person in your life for one more day, why not put up healthy boundaries TODAY and see where you are a year from now?
  11. Instead of driving yourself into the ground to get that promotion at work, missing out on irreplaceable family and friend time, what if you actually got to know your co-workers in the cubicle next to you?
  12. Instead of hoping to finally landscape that front yard, how about you walk across the street and actually meet your neighbors?
  13. Instead of, instead of, instead of…Well, you get the picture.

Yes, it can be the year that you finally ditch those crappy resolutions that you never, ever keep and never will, that suck your self-esteem, wreak havoc on your self-worth, and keep you fixated on the shallow. It can be THE year for you. The year of relationships. Of reconciliation. Recovery. Generosity. Selflessness. Depth. Of the things that actually really do count for something in this life.

Because in the end, and it will come—it always does, what does it matter if you have the perfect body on the outside yet have bitterness, spite, envy, or loneliness in your heart? What does it mean if you build up your physique but haven’t built up your kids? What does it count for if you start to like the way you look but never look a stranger in the eye?

Sure, I’d like to be fit and trim again. (Who wouldn’t?) But if I’m honest about what really counts, I’d rather be generous with my love, aware of others’ needs, in tune to those around me. So I’m resolving THIS. Because these are things I can easily resolve to do…and actually easily do. And you know what? It really won’t even suck in the process. In fact, come December 31st of this year, we’re going to feel a thousand times better about ourselves, Muffin Tops and all. I guarantee it. You with me?

Exercise daily in God—no spiritual flabbiness, please! Workouts in the gymnasium are useful, but a disciplined life in God is far more so, making you fit both today and forever. You can count on this. Take it to heart. This is why we’ve thrown ourselves into this venture so totally. -1 Timothy 4:7-8, The Message



P.S.—Because I know it’s coming—If your New Year’s Resolution is going to literally save your life, then by all means KEEP IT. And get a real plan to do so. You’re smoking? Stop. Drinking too much? Get help and stop it. Morbidly obese? See your doctor now and get to the gym. Duh. Because if you do, then next year you’ll actually be here to make a resolution that counts for more than your health.

P.P.S. If you already have the perfect body and just can’t get enough of the gym, well, I’m happy for you. No, I really am. Keep it up. But don’t neglect the things that really do matter in this life. Your body will one day rot. It will. But your soul and the impact you have on this world, well, they will live on forever.

7 thoughts on “Resolve THIS:

  1. Susan Bingham

    Thanks Heidi. This was along my line of thinking. I always say lose weight and “yada yada.” Your post was what I had been trying to wrap my mind around. Thanks for the encouraging nudge!!!


  2. Pam

    Thank you for a look at what real and accomplishable resolutions can do. Too often I find myself so frustrated for making resolutions that I know I won’t do. But you have given me different ideas on what I can do if I just quit thinking about myself and how hard or bad my life is. It is time to think about how other people would be so happy to live where I live and have the things I have. I need to be willing to give to the people in this world more of myself and my possessions.


  3. Nancy

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. What a world it will be come December 31, 2014 if/when we put your wise words into practice. Brought tears to my eyes just imagining it.


  4. Karla Marie

    Just the conversation my hub and I had on New Year’s Eve! We just want to be BETTER at what we are already doing and you say get over “ourselves”!


  5. Marjorie

    99.9% of the arguments my husband and I have are a result of communication breakdown. One thing that helps me is this: If my point is not being received in the right way, I keep saying it in a different way.

    Amen on the word always and never too!


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