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Marriage: Ramping Up Resolutions

Ramping Up Resolutions—A 4-Step Plan to Review & Refocus Your Life

This plan is not for the faint of heart. It is for the committed and courageous or those who desire to be. Look, if you aim at nothing—you’ll hit it every time. We all know that. Setting and achieving goals are what set men apart. Most people talk much but fizzle more.

A couple years back, I had an interesting discussion with a fitness instructor at a local gym. New Year’s resolutions often include some fitness goals, losing weight, getting healthy or whatever. His experience was that the goal is short live—that by mid-February, most of the well-meaning, good intentioned fitness flirts were DONE! Their resolutions lasted barely 6 weeks. They fizzled out.

That’s why people so often mock New Year’s resolutions. You may be one of them. Resolutions are seen as nice ideas, whimsical wishes, or even booze-induced bravado. They are often shallow and short-lived. They go nowhere and help no one.

But what if…just what if the New Year’s resolution idea was reframed? Try out these words—REVIEW & REFOCUS. Could there be something incredibly transforming about an annual personal evaluation and a corresponding re-purposing for the upcoming year? I think it would be powerful. Why not join me and a host of others and try this 4-Step Plan to ramp up your resolutions in 2014 and every year after!

S-T-E-P 1 – Get alone with God

You need a minimum of an hour alone in a quiet place. Record your thoughts and God’s promptings. Ask Jesus to show you things in your life that need adjusting—things that don’t honour Him.  Use Psalm 139:23,24 to guide your prayerful evaluation of your heart, your thoughts and your actions…

Search me, O God, and know my heart;

       test me and know my anxious thoughts.

Point out anything in me that offends you,

       and lead me along the path of everlasting life.”

Pray, listen, write. Ask the Lord to warm your heart and deepen your faith. Ask Him to use your life to make a difference in His world in the new year. Ask Him for forgiveness for wrongs done whether public or private. Ask Him where you need to adjust your priorities to honour Him. Seek the Lord regarding your immediate family on what you need to do to get relationships right and keep them strong this year. Pray, listen, write. Who else do you need to reconcile with? What restitution with others would be God-honouring? Ask Him to help you see clearly beyond your blind spots and to show you where your life is not pleasing to Him. Focus on what changes you hear Him asking you to make. Pray, listen, write.

S-T-E-P 2 – Grapple with the Questions

Every January 1 is a marking of time—another year is gone. You only have one shot at this life. Believe it is both wise and about time you start to evaluate all aspects of your life. You might as well make the most of it in every way. I am stirred again by the words on a small plaque in my home as a kid.

Only one life

       It will soon be past.

Only what’s done

       For Christ will last.

People of deep faith believe that. Let the turn of the year signal your annual commitment to refocus your core values of life to be sure that all you do and say honours the Lord. Take another hour alone and honestly respond to the questions below recording your responses in an appropriate way. Be sure to braid in all the promptings you received from God in Step 1.

Personal Annual Life Review Questions

  1. DEEPER FAITH: Did you grow closer to Jesus in the last 12 months? Analyze both your relationship with the Lord and your daily walk with Him. What needs to continue and what needs to change?
  2. LIFE INTEGRITY: Are you living what you say you believe? Where may you be compromising your values? Are you conducting yourself in a manner worthy of the Gospel? What adjustments do you need to make?
  3. SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES: What has helped you grow the most in your understanding and faith in God? Think through adjustments in the areas of Bible reading, prayer, memorization, fasting, journaling, other reading?
  4. KEY RELATIONSHIPS: How are things with your immediate family? How can things approve with your spouse and kids? What about parents, extended family, friends or work associates? Are changes needed?
  5. PERSONAL HEALTH: Are you eating and living balanced and wise? What kind of condition are you in? Where do you need to improve in taking better care of the body God has given you?
  6. DISPOSABLE INCOME: Does God own your stuff or does your stuff own you? How well are you living responsibly and generously within your income? How will you let God control your wallet this year?
  7. LIFE PRIORITIES: Do your life ambitions, aspirations and plans match what God wants? Are you living balanced with work and family? How are you serving Him? Where is God directing you to expend more effort?

S-T-E-P 3 – Gather Outside Input

If you are still with me this far you are on a roll! Good job. Now get brave. Share both God’s promptings to you and your answers to the annual review questions to your spouse or significant other and two other good people. You are asking for their input on three things:

  1. To give comments and input on what you have written out.
  2. To share observations or concerns about possible blind spots on anything you may have missed.
  3. To be willing to help you review and refocus and then hold you accountable to the goals you’ll be setting for the new year in Step 4.

Why bother other people you say? Because walking with the encouragement and scrutiny of others is God’s way of becoming who He wants you to be. Listening to advice and receiving correction will allow you to make the most out of this life. Proverbs is clear –

“Instruct a wise man; he will be wiser still. Teach a righteous man; he will add to his learning” (9:9). “Wisdom is found in those who take advice” (13:10). “Listen to advice and accept instruction and in the end you will be wise” (19:20). “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (27:17).

Give these friends 2–3 days to return their comments about your review and refocus to you.

S-T-E-P 4 – Go for the Goals

This last step will take a little more work. Review your input from the Lord and your friends. Stir in your responses to the life review questions in attempt to refocus your life for the new year. Write out 8–10 goals that you by God’s grace and enabling (and some good swift kicks in the derriere from your friends) you will seek to achieve in the next 12 months. Goals are observable and measurable statements that are both a stretch but attainable in the Lord. Be specific like ‘have a meeting of reconciliation with my brother-in-law by March 1’ or ‘read my Bible at least 5 days each week’. Print out your goals and put them in 2–3 three places you frequent (like your mirror, in your wallet, in your Bible, etc.). Pass them on to your spouse and these good friends to be held accountable.

Let me close by quoting Paul’s great advise on annual reviews—and I am quoting from the Currie Revised Paraphrase.

“But one thing I do [every January 1st]: Forgetting what is behind [and how I have dropped the ball in 2013] and straining toward what is ahead [becoming more of who God wants me to be], I press on toward the goals [that I have set through His prompting for 2014] to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13,14

Why not recommit your life to God in prayer in the next week? Surrender all you have and are to Him. Put Him in charge. Tell those close to you about your decision.

Let me know if you take the review and refocus resolution challenge. My goal is that 1000 people will join me. Are you one of them?

May God bless your new year!

Web Pic_DC© Dr. Dave Currie – December 2013