If you want to polarize a room, bring up the subject of making resolutions for a new year.
The Truth About New Year’s Resolutions
The data I’ve read recently indicates we’re split pretty evenly. 45% of people make resolutions every year, while 55% of people make them rarely or never. According to Jon Acuff and Michael Hyatt, of the 45% of people who make resolutions, less than 50% will keep them past January and one year later, only 8-9% of those people who made resolutions will still be on track.
Those numbers are pretty bleak. But I’m not sure they tell the full story.
Many of us set goals, make changes and are different from year to year. But there is something culturally that does infuse us with a sense of newness and optimism as we approach a new calendar year.
I’m not an expert at setting goals (Michael Hyatt is the man when it comes to those). I’m not great at making resolutions, as it seems I change my approach from year-to-year. But as I’ve looked back over the last few years, and the words I’ve chosen, the resolutions I’ve made and the changes that have happened, I’ve identified a few common factors. Whether you make resolutions or not, I think you need to pay attention to what I call your “secret sauce”.
My friend, Paul Angone, has a great online course he launched in 2015 called Signature Sauce, which I highly recommend. Paul got me thinking about the ingredients that make a great life. As I’ve deconstructed and reviewed my last few years, I see some common elements which have helped me move forward despite varying approaches to resolutions and lots of unexpected life circumstances.
We all need these ingredients to cook up a great year. Our goals may need to be adjusted throughout the year and we can add new ones throughout the year. But regardless of what happens to you this year, if you keep these six things in sight, I think you’ll be cooking up an awesome year in 2016.
6 Ingredients to an Incredible New Year
One of our greatest fears as humans is the fear of being alone. We hate loneliness and avoid it all costs. We need a group of people with whom we can share life. Actress Reese Witherspoon calls her group her “Southern Mafia.” One of my friends has a “tribe,” another has her “chosen family.” Whether 2016 is a year of great success or suffering (or both), we will need people to walk with us. Who are those people for you?
I think some of the 55% who don’t do resolutions are just over the tired exercise and hype around it all. But I think others are actually cynical about whether they or those around them will ever change. That kind of thinking is incredibly dangerous. When hope dies, it takes down others with it. We need hope, not only for this life but for what lies beyond this life. One of the best apologetics for the hope I’m rooted in comes from the Apostle Paul in his first letter to the Corinthian church. Where will your source of hope be?
My family attended a Christmas concert a few weeks ago. My son was entertained opening up the church’s offering envelopes and drawing inside of them. He brought one envelope home, telling his mom and I about his “mission” which was scribbled inside the envelope. We’d ask him a few times a day about his current mission. We all need a mission, something that we’ve been called, even created, to do. Mission gets us up in the morning and picks us up when we fall down. What’s your mission?
The difference between an average story and a great story lies in two elements – the characters and their struggle. Adversity is the special ingredient that makes all stories great. Without adversity, movies aren’t worth watching. It’s the struggle which keeps us glued to the screen. While few of us would make “adversity” one of our goals or include it in our prayers, it is an essential ingredient in a great year. How did adversity shape you last year?
In his letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul wrote, “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment” I fear some of us are pretty drunk on ourselves, while others are so insecure we don’t have confidence at all. Self-awareness is a sober self-assessment. Since many of us don’t have an accurate, honest view of ourselves, we make unnecessary mistakes, fumble relationships and needlessly disappoint others. When’s the last time you asked someone else what it’s like to be on the other side of you?
Every great epic story has a mentor. For Luke Skywalker, it’s Yoda. For Frodo, it’s Gandalf. For Katniss, it’s Haymitch. We need mentors for our relationships, finances, spiritual formation, careers, and physical fitness. Whether it’s a person we sit across coffee with regularly or someone whose content we consume via books, video or social media, we need to metabolize the knowledge and experience of others. The quickest way to go further faster in life is to leapfrog forward off what we’ve learned from others. Whose wisdom will you seek out this year?
Whether you’re a resolution maker or a resolution hater, these six elements can be stirred together to make an incredible year and an even more incredible life.