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Rethinking New Year’s Resolutions

Happy New Year, everyone.

You probably woke up this morning with a new sense of purpose and determination. Yesterday, you mapped out your plan for this year.  You made your resolutions, made your list, picked your one word.

This will be the year, you think.  The year you stop watching pornography.  The year you get a hold of your heart and finally are rid of this struggle.  

You have hope the hope of a fresh start.  Everything is new.  

Then, perhaps, you have already messed up.  Just hours into this new page, you have already fallen.  After being so determined yesterday, you slipped today.  Your mind wandered to places you didn’t want it to be.  You got online to update your Facebook and ended up on a porn site.  You thought about how you spent New Years Eve alone and started to masturbate.

If not today, then maybe tomorrow, or the day after.  Or maybe you will make it a couple weeks, even months and then, out of nowhere, you will fall.

And then you’ll tell yourself you’ve failed.

Whether it’s January 12 or November 9, when you fall, you will write off the entire year of 2014 as a complete failure.  It will be remembered as the year you couldn’t.

The year you couldn’t break free.  The year you couldn’t lose weight.  The year you couldn’t get your act together.  The year that you just give up until 2015 rolls around and you can try again.

It’s an exhausting cycle isn’t it?

I have been caught in it so many times, not just with pornography but with any kind of resolution.  It could be something as simple as eating healthy or something more significant like reading my Bible.  I miss that one day, and the temptation is to just give up.

That’s why, this year, I took a different approach to New Year’s Resolutions, and one I want to encourage you to take.  Instead of setting a daily goal of what I want to do (I want to work out every single day), I set a long-term goal of who I want to be.

Instead of locking myself into a list of self-made rules and regulations, I look ahead and set a goal for character, an end-game, if you will.  A motivation.  Why do I want to eat healthy?  Why do I want to read 20 books?  What habit or discipline am I trying to develop.

It’s the difference between progress and success.

So often, our resolution is success-oriented.  If we fall short of the goal we have set, we figure we have failed.  What if we changed that and were less concerned about reaching a specific goal and more concerned about developing a certain character?

Instead of just slapping some vague resolution on your year (I want to be free of porn), take it deeper than that.  Why do you want to be free?  When you look back on December 31, 2014, what about your character do you want to be different?

Maybe you want to break free from pornography because you can see how it affects your trust.  So, you want to, at the end of the year, be a more trusting woman.  Or perhaps your habits of lust are hurting your friendships.  You want to break free so that you can have more solid relationships with people.  Do you see how that makes it bigger?

Do you see how that takes your resolution and transforms it from a one-strike policy to something greater?  If you fall, there is still a goal to attain, still a standard to reach, still something to strive for.  If you feel weak, you can remember why you are doing this.  Having a greater goal changes everything.

I encourage you, in the next couple days, as your friends and family make their lists, sign up for a gym membership, to think about the you you hope to be on December 31, 2014.  Think about the you you know God wants you to be.  Who is that woman?  What is she like?  What character qualities are admirable. Write those down.

Then, connect the dots back to where you are now.  What are choices you can make, things you can get rid of, areas you need to work on in order to be on the way to becoming that woman?  What are some ways that you see your struggle affecting that progress?  How can you walk in victory over those particular areas?

It’s a big exercise and it might take some quiet time and some soul-searching, but I think it will help you stay on track this year.  Ultimately, the success is not in reaching a goal.  This year, to borrow the words of Ann Voskamp, move forward, and if you mess up, just keep moving forward.

The success is in the progress.