Some people make New Year’s Resolutions. Some people never do, because you have an 80% chance of not keeping them (according to some). But questions are better than resolutions. Answering these questions first will make it possible for you to accomplish something new and get you what you want in 2021.
You’ve probably heard the advice. Make your goals SMART – Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Time-Bound. Write them down. Take it in small steps. Enlist support from family and friends. Those things are important, and they help.
But too many people still struggle with accomplishing the things they know are important and that they really care about.
So what do you want in 2021? Better income? Better health? A stronger marriage? Less stress and anxiety? More meaningful friendships? To write a book? To launch a ministry or business?
Before making New Year’s Resolutions or writing SMART goals, answer these three questions. It will help you get you what you want this year.
Why do you want this, really?
My husband quit smoking when we got married because he wanted to live as long as possible with me. His Why became stronger than his addiction. And he lived much longer than he would have if he hadn’t quit.
What’s your Why? Why do you really want to lose weight, or make more money, or get involved in ministry? Ask the question, and then follow it up with really? Keep going deeper until you get to the underlying motivation, your true Why.
To make a lasting change, your Why will have to be big enough to outweigh the discomfort of going through the difficult change process. If your Why is something like “because I should,” or “because they told me to,” you won’t last.
Andy Stanley in Better Decisions, Fewer Regrets says, “You can’t lead yourself if you’re lying to yourself.” Keep asking Why, really? until you get to the truth for yourself.
And when you get to your Why, hold on to it. A true Why will remain regardless of changes in the surrounding circumstances. You’ll need that to make it through the process.
What is Within My Control?
You may have heard of Lead Measures and Lag Measures. Lag measures are those things that lag – how much you weigh, the money in your bank account, how your spouse feels about you, whether you get that promotion. They are things that matter, but they are results. They are things you cannot control today.
Lead measures are much closer to the cause. They are actions you can take that eventually are likely to change the outcome. While you can’t control what the scales say today, you can control how many steps you take today, and what you eat for lunch. You can control how many sales calls you make today, how much time you spend on social media, or the amount of focused attention you give to your spouse. (Note: in marriage, you can’t control your spouse’s choices.)
So if you want something to be different by this time next year, focus on the actions you can take, the things that are in your control. Developing new habits, changing the things you can change, is not necessarily easy. Outside circumstances also change. And you can’t control other people. There are some things outside your control that you will need to loosen your grip on.
But you will be surprised how small investments in new actions will reap compound interest in the kind of life you experience tomorrow.
Lord, What are You Up To?
How many times have you wanted to do something, or made some significant plans, and then said, “Let’s ask God to bless this.” Your plans might look great, and even be for the benefit of others.
However, God is not obligated to “bless” something you come up with. He’s not “fairy dust” you sprinkle on your plans or desires.
But God does make Himself responsible to finish what He starts. “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6) That principle holds for a business initiative, a marriage, a ministry outreach, or an improvement you want to make in your own life.
So before you create your elaborate SMART goals, relationship resolutions, business plan, or ministry vision, take the time to thoughtfully and prayerfully ask God what He’s up to. When you align with Him and His plans, you have a 100% chance of success.
Experiencing God in this way will require a lot of you. There are always things God invites you to do as you join Him. Your faith will be stretched, and you will need to take action.
So, I suggest this two-part prayer as a great way to begin 2021:
- God, what are You up to? What are You doing in and around me that You’re inviting me into?
- God, what next step do You need me to take in working with You?
Most of us hope for a better 2021 than 2020 was. But that won’t happen simply by wishing it to be so, or because of a date on the calendar. Thoughtfully consider these questions. And I pray 2021 is a year of growth, joy, transformation, and meaning for you.
Your Turn: What do you want, really? What are the things within your control? What do you sense God is up to in and around you? Leave a comment below.
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- A better 2021 won’t happen by accident. Thoughtfully, prayerfully, asking and answering these questions will give you a great opportunity to get you what you want in 2021. Tweet that.
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