End of the Year Resolutions
Updated: Jan 27, 2020
Can you believe it? We're coming up on the final quarter of 2019!
[October 1 - December 31] =
After several years of honest effort trying to make my New Year's Resolutions stick, I stopped making them. All it was doing was reinforcing a negative self concept of not being able to finish the things I started.
New Year's Resolutions can be like suffering through a horribly boring book for the empty reward of saying to ourselves that we finished it. Especially if our lives shift or take a totally different direction than the one we planned in January. Nancy Pearl said, "Nobody is going to get any points in heaven by slogging their way through a book they aren't enjoying, but think they ought to read." The same should go for our resolutions or goals that just don't fit anymore. Adhering to irrelevant resolutions is like trying to finish a bad book. It's simply not necessary.
Having a good year is about how we finish it! So take courage if your life is simply not aligned with the resolutions you made at New Year's, or if you've forgotten about them altogether!
I do have a few New Year's practices. First, I reflect on the previous year. I do this alone and with my wife (she helps me remember stuff I forget and gives a unique perspective or recollection to certain happenings). We write down the memorable moments. Family events. Things we are grateful for. The goodness of God. Things He taught us. Lessons learned. Books read. Mistakes made. Places traveled. etc.
Second, we try to discern (individually and as a couple) what the New Year's theme will be. What God's hope for us is in the New Year. What promises He is giving us to believe?
Though I have found New Year's Resolutions to be a futile exercise, End of the Year's Resolutions have been quite effective for me.
What are End of the Year's Resolutions?
Simply put, it's when we finalize our goals, intentions and expectations for the final quarter of the year. There's a certain power deadlines provide that an initial assignment does not.
When we realize that there are only 3 months left in the year, it serves as a sort-of kick-in-the-rear to get stuff done, or conversely, a pat on the shoulder that says, "You're doing well, keep going and finish strong."
Coming face to face with the reality that another year is about to be filed away in our personal history can be a motivational juggernaut. It's where we take a hard look at what we've done up to this point and decide whether or not we need continue-on with dogged commitment or scrap the plan and start over. It's the time of year when we evaluate whether we are coming into alignment with the hopes, themes and dreams we had written down at the Year's beginning, or if we need a course correction to get to our destination.
IT'S NOT TOO LATE!
Facing the final quarter of the year may seem frightening at first. But, it's actually good news! End of the Year Resolutions can be life-savers. Do you remember cramming for exams in high school or college? Okay, I confess, it was not the best way to learn the material, but it worked! It achieved the desired results right? What if we had chosen to not study at all? It could have been disastrous for our G.P.A.!
Well, it's not too late for you to accomplish your goals for the year, or at least get a head start on them for next year. As Christians, we have an advantage of sorts. We exist in a divine relationship with a loving Father who specializes in the redemption of time. When we partner with Him, when we invite Him into our story, things just can't, not happen.
I want to challenge you to take some time for reflection. Maybe a weekend or an afternoon, just grab some time for yourself. Think about how this year is going, where you wanted it to go, and what adjustments may need to be made before Year's end. Write your findings down and organize them into a list of intentions to complete before the Holiday hustle arrives.
Here's where we need to be both practical and bold. Our intentions or End of the Year Goals need to be both audacious and attainable with lots of hard work, good fortune, and a little help.
Limit your End of the Year Intentions to 3 Core Commitments. These are your musts. These are the "final exams" that you need to cram for like never before. These 3 Core Commitments are non-negotiable. These are the things on which you will focus the majority of your time, energy and prayer.
Once you have determined your 3 Core Commitments, organize all of the other items in an FTA (Feed The Animals) list. An FTA list (something I learned from Bryan Ward's LIT Paper) contains all the things that are important and maybe necessary for you to complete the year successfully, but are not central to your life and legacy. We have to feed the animals, mow the grass, and take out the garbage, but these to-do's are more of a maintenance list than a must-accomplish list.
So, take the next week or so, before the last quarter sneaks up on us without warning, and reflect on your year so far. Make your list, set your course and finish well.