A New Approach to the New Year {ToL #4}

I mentioned on Instagram that I chose a New Year’s “theme” for 2017. I explained here why I chose the theme that I did (#PrioritizedAction). I think it is important to go deeper and share with you the basis for why I choose themes to begin my years now, rather than participate in setting New Year’s resolutions.


The Problem with Resolutions

I am not alone in doing this. Recognizing the drawbacks of New Year’s resolutions, a lot of people now choose a word, mantra, or theme to focus on for the upcoming year instead, and I love this. I believe that there is much greater value in taking this approach, as opposed to going the route of New Year’s resolutions. Choosing a “mental anchor” helps you to really focus in on things and decide what your big picture goals for the upcoming year will be. It also requires clarity of purpose. Meaning that, when you have a theme, you must get and maintain a minimalist attitude in terms of how you manage those goals and the use of your time. (For more on this, I highly recommend you check out Essentialism).

The ”fresh start” concept of the New Year, and resolutions are not entirely bad, but the mentality is flawed. You are always one choice away from a “fresh start.” While time frames are useful tools, they can also work against us. An “all-or-nothing” mindset tends to tag along with the “fresh start,” and that “all-or-nothing” mindset results in judgment of our actions. Can you see where this leads? Actions become labeled as ”good” or ”bad.” We then reflect those labels onto ourselves…we are good or bad. Success or failure becomes tied to our ability to perform. The Lord never intended for us to function this way(1). Whether you are a person of Faith or not, you can’t argue that performance-driven action ever makes for peaceful way to function.

Remove Expectations: Choose a Theme

In a way, choosing a theme is still an opportunity to select some things you are wanting to improve upon, but it sets you up in a manner that is much more likely to align with success. It is a way to focus on the processes, rather than outcomes. This works better, in my opinion, for several reasons.

It still takes into consideration the long term, but in such a way that it removes the pressure, and the negative impact of merely looking at the short term factors. When you take a “big picture” approach to things, you consider more of the ‘whys’ and ‘hows’  of doing things, and less of the feelings attached to them. You place less expectation on being at a certain destination, and can relax into just being in alignment with the course that will get you there. The irony is that when you stop trying so hard to follow a rigid set of rules (which willpower will only allow you to do for a finite amount of time) and give yourself this slight freedom of wiggle room, you will actually be more likely to achieve the intended outcome. Not to mention, you’ll actually enjoy the process of getting there.

Reader Question + Your Turn:
1. Do you set resolutions, focus on a theme, or just use the opportunity to do goal setting?
2. Please share what you have decided on for 2017!


(1) 2 Timothy 1:9, Galatians 2:16, Romans 3:28)

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