Simple New Year’s Resolutions—Progress Over Perfection

How do you feel about New Year’s resolutions?

Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like—this year more than ever—making resolutions is a polarizing topic. Darned if you do. Darned if you don’t.

Do you know what I mean?

On the one hand, there’s pressure to make one because, gosh, isn’t everyone? No one wants to feel like an unmotivated failure for not making a resolution… or not KEEPING a resolution.

Then, on the other hand, there’s a push to escape the “new year, new me” mentality because January 1st isn’t a magical date and there’s nothing wrong with being content with who you are right now.

But, why does it have to be all or nothing? Personally, I see both sides and fall somewhere in between.

And, well, I just like to set goals. Daily. Weekly. Monthly. And yes, yearly. It’s the way my brain works to stay focused on what’s important and make progress. Year-to-year evaluations help me better visualize my long-term progress. That’s not to say I don’t self-evaluate on any given day of the year to course-correct or recognize improvement. But, I also know that it’s important to look at the bigger picture, too. Day-to-day progress can sometimes be too miniscule or seem too insignificant, and it’s not until I look back on an entire year that I see how far I’ve come—or where I might need more focus.

All that to say, if you make resolutions on January 1st because it challenges you in a positive way to press forward, that’s terrific! Or, if you’ve learned that New Year’s resolutions don’t serve you well, and you’d rather make changes throughout the year, that’s terrific, too!

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: progress over perfection.

However and WHENEVER you choose to set goals, track progress, and self-assess is completely up to you—and you should never feel guilty for doing it your way.

My Past New Year’s Resolutions

In recent years, I created New Year’s resolution bucket lists (and blogged about them here and here). Those years of listing out and pursuing highly specific goals showed me that even when I didn’t accomplish every single goal, that didn’t necessarily mean I failed or had a bad year. In fact, looking back on those years, I have to say they turned out better than I planned or thought possible.

I’ll always be a goal-driven person, but I’ve come to appreciate letting go a bit more and accept a goal unmet or change in plans as an opportunity to embrace an often more beautiful reality—or a chance to learn and grow in the reality that every year won’t be the best year.

My Simple New Year’s Resolutions Approach

For 2021, rather than focus on highly specific goals, I kept it simple. My 2021 New Year’s resolution goals were to treat each day as a gift, be content whatever the circumstances, and live fueled on God’s strength—not my own.

And, rather than evaluate if I met these goals, I sit here today asking myself if I made progress in these areas.

Did I treat each day as a gift more often than I did in prior years? Yes, I think I did.

Was I more consistently content regardless of what happened each day? Kind of. It was a year of learning how to better manage my anxious thoughts.

Did I live fueled on God’s strength more often than I relied on my own? Yes and no. I definitely needed God for confidence, endurance, wisdom, patience, and more. Did I always acknowledge my need for Him right away? Nope. Many days, I started out on my own strength, and then it was an Oh. Wait. Stop. God. Help! situation. I think the progress came in recognizing my need for His strength sooner than I used to.

My 2022 New Year’s Resolutions

For 2022, I decided to cut out the word “goals” altogether. Instead, I’m resolving to make progress. That doesn’t mean I’m any less focused—it’s just that progress isn’t always quantifiable or absolute. And, it doesn’t have to be. When I look back a year from now, if I can say I

Okay, so what are my resolutions for progress?

  1. To continue working on my 2021 resolutions. Another thing about taking the word “goals” out of my resolutions is allowing them to go beyond just one year. Some resolutions are for a season, and others are for life.
  2. To allow God to use me more. This requires being more vulnerable. More open. More saying YES to opportunities that glorify Him and NO to what doesn’t serve me or God well.
  3. To be more like the sea. The sea??? Yes, the sea. I’ve heard my whole life how the wind and sea and all of creation obeys God; but, for some reason, I didn’t really let it sink in till just recently. And that’s why I want to be more like the sea. More obedient to God without questioning that He knows best. This requires building a reflex or muscle that does not hesitate, even when I don’t understand. He’s proven to me that when I do obey, He is faithful—so I want to obey MORE.

Gosh, I’m thankful God is faithful to meet us where we are with patience and love. He knows we’re works in progress for life, and He still never leaves. WOW. What’s more, he HELPS us transform if we let Him. Philippians 1:6 (NLT) reads: “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

If your view on New Year’s resolutions differs from mine, I support you! And know that, as we all enter 2022 together, I pray your year is one of progress and contentment and joy.

Cheers to another year of life!

Selfie of a woman smiling
Me on December 31, 2021

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