New Year

Resolutions: The Why Behind What You’re Doing

The success rate of people keeping resolutions is around 8 percent (tops). Resolutions fell off my to-do list years ago. However, I’ve heard that more than 50 percent of Americans still firmly believe in making resolutions.

And let’s just say old habits are hard to break; the ritual of making resolutions began long before Christ was born.

I finally nailed down my New Year’s resolutions:

  • Gain 20 pounds
  • Create chaos and conflict with family and friends
  • Stop reading my Bible
  • Stop exercising
  • Dive deeper into debt
  • Get fired
  • Have a nervous breakdown

Well, okay . . . maybe not!

Resolution Rituals

The first records we have of resolution-like practices date back to the Babylonian empire.

The motivation was that if the gods were pleased by one’s behavior, success and prosperity would come to that person during the coming year.

The Romans continued this practice annually in accordance with Julius Caesar’s change of the calendar.

Over time, the evolution of the New Year’s resolution shifted.

Resolutions once focused on cultivating morality and inner disciplines; now they are largely about externals—losing weight, getting organized, and creating more family time.

You may be thinking, what’s wrong with growth in those areas?

Well, minus the pagan gods part.

  • Moral development
  • Health
  • Wellness
  • Balance

Seems like a magnificent merging of the Bible and the golden rule.

Or is it? When examined on the surface, it all seems relatively okay; but for the Christian, when we dig into it, there is a vast difference between resolutions and transforming change. It requires one question:

What is your “Why?”—your core motive for making that resolution?

Thinking It Through

I recently wrote about being burned out and exhausted. For healing and wellness to happen, I had to examine this question:

Why did I get burned out—was it because of my . . .

  • Habits
  • Choices
  • Beliefs
  • Behaviors
  • Patterns

As we step into the New Year, let’s do so wisely.

Often, we don’t realize our choices and habits have developed from

  • Past hurts
  • Present demands
  • Persistent worries about the future

(Notice these are all focused on the self.)

Self-motivated anything is typically a set-up for disappointment.

A thinner waistline or fatter bank account won’t ultimately make you feel more fulfilled. We will never get to where we desire by focusing only on ourselves.

Our focus must be on Christ and our relationship with Him, because His truth, His love, and our identity in Him ought to be the basis for our why as Christians.

Knowing why you choose, believe, and behave affects every area of your life.

The answer to our “Why?” ought to be “because . . . Jesus.”


If you desire this next year to be the “best one yet,” start by examining your expectations and motivations—your why behind what you are doing.

(Photo Courtesy of Pexels)

I’ve included a brief questionnaire to get things going—because we all desire a year that brings peace and provides hope.

In making resolutions, let’s ask why:


  • Why am I pursuing this grade, major, occupation, path of study?
  • Is this how God has made me, and am I relying on Him for help (Daniel 1:17), or am I choosing to please others and not pursue my heart’s desire?


  • Are my health goals established on insecurities or immoral issues, or because my body is the temple of the Lord (1 Corinthians 6:19–20) and there is only one me?
  • Do I honor the Lord with my body, how I dress, how I present myself?
  • Why do I want to be physically fit?


  • Am I establishing wise boundaries?
  • How is my attitude?
  • Have I been stressed and disconnected and unwilling to listen to others’ concerns (Proverbs 27:9)?
  • Has someone suggested I see a therapist—and am I willing/unwilling to listen?


  • Why do I choose certain relationships?
  • Are they healthy, promoting growth (Proverbs 17:17) or unhealthy and codependent?
  • Do I want to be right more than at peace with others?
  • Am I controlling in relationships?
  • Do my friends and family feel comfortable with me, or am I difficult?
  • What kinds of relationships does the Lord desire for me to cultivate?
  • Are they in keeping with my current relationships?
  • Do I honor the Lord in how I treat my loved ones (Ephesians 4:32)?


  • Why do I believe what I believe (1 Peter 3:15)?
  • Are my beliefs and behaviors congruent?
  • Am I allowing the Lord to shape me?
  • Am I trying to hide something from the Lord (as if . . .)?
  • Why do I treat others and myself the way I do?
  • Do I have lingering resentments or bitterness that need to be worked through?
  • Do I honor the Lord with my time and who I am with?
  • How’s my judgment toward others?
  • Do I label and judge or seek to understand and help (James 5:9)?

Let Me Hear from You

There are a ton of questions listed above, I know. Perhaps in the month of January, you can take one section a week to examine where you are and if you need to make changes. You can do it! In fact, let’s do this together.

I’m in the midst of making a few changes myself; you may have ideas I haven’t thought of. So tell me what you are working on, and I’ll let you in on my progress.

It’s going to be a great year.

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