Ahhh…January. The time for new year resolutions and getting in shape. Nearly everywhere you turn you’ll see ads for diets and workout equipment. We all start out with the best of intentions…and for some, those resolutions are kept quite well. For many, perhaps most, they fall by the wayside by mid-January. Why?
I think there are two reasons.
First, the goals set were lofty and unrealistic. I’m going to eat healthy (no carbs whatsoever-ever); exercise for an hour each morning before work; lose 50 pounds by February; organize the house; start a new hobby; do charity work; a daily hour of prayer and meditation; and take some night classes. Sound familiar? Yep, been there. Done that…or, actually, more accurately, haven’t done that.
The second reason our resolutions fail is we didn’t take the time to discern the right goals. When we want to make changes in our lives, or just kick it up a notch, we need to seriously consider what we really want, and even more importantly, what we’re called to. So often we act on a whim or we seek what’s popular—like being a size 0 or making more money—the truth may be that that’s not really our heart’s real desire. We may take on a noble cause or seek a higher status but do we stop to consider what will actually make us truly happy?
So now that mid-January is upon us, and our unrealistic resolutions may be getting limp, it’s a good time to make a more serious list of goals that you want to accomplish this year. Here are a few questions to get you started:
1. Where would I like to be five years from now?
Now, unless you’ve started a new and lucrative business or just won the Powerball, you may want to refrain from saying “in a mansion on the beach with servants waiting on me.” That’s not a goal. It’s a fantasy. Be realistic, but dream a little. If you’re stuck in a dead-end job you hate, set a goal to get a better job or to start a business. That’s very possible but won’t just happen. You need to take some action.
2. What do I need to do this year to set me up for success in five years?
If you want a better job in five years, perhaps going back to school or learning new skills is the goal for this year. Maybe you’re single and would like to be married in five years. What are some things you can start doing this year to make that happen? Have you had problem relationships in the past? Maybe talking to a counselor is the ticket for this year. Are you struggling with health issues? Implementing a better diet and exercise program makes sense…but if you’ve tried and failed before, maybe enlisting the help of a health coach or joining a group like Weight Watchers would help.
3. What does God want for me?
I put this third but it’s really the most important consideration we need to make. And for many, it may seem like the hardest question to answer so they avoid it. How do you know?
Well, here’s the answer: God wants you to be happy. Truly happy. That’s why He created you—for happiness.
But the big question is this: Do you believe that? I mean really believe it in practice, not just in an abstract sort of way? If you don’t then make your plans and try your best…that’s what most people do. And like throwing mud against a wall, some of it may stick…but a lot will land on the floor.
But if you do believe it then try asking God to show you His will for you. It takes time to discern and so few take this time. In our hurried world we make quick decisions and follow the crowd, often with little thought as to whether or not we ought to do something or not.
So perhaps that may be your best goal for this year…to listen…to discern…to be in conversation with God on a regular basis as He reveals His love and particular will for you.
So sure, follow steps one and two and set some practical goals. There’s nothing wrong with this. We need to do such things. But there’s more to true success than accomplishing goals…it’s doing God’s will.
And that starts with believing in His love for you…
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