Every New Year, thousands of people make new resolutions, set new goals or just determine to improve their lives in some way. The New Year is an excellent time to do that. When a new calendar year rolls around we often think of new beginnings or a fresh start. Possibly the most common New Year’s resolutions revolve around exercise and losing weight. It seems after the holidays, filled with delectable treats and excessive eating, people are prompted to make a change and lose a few pounds. Dieting programs, exercise gyms, and exercise equipment sales annually spike in January.
In addition, grocery stores stock up on low calorie products of all kinds. When I worked at Walmart, we reduced space for cooking products and fattening foods and increased our supply of diet meals and yogurt in late December and early January.
Yet a recent report released by the online grocer FreshDirect revealed that customer’s consumption of liquor and wine increased 40% in the first two weeks of February while juice-cleanse sales dropped by 25%. In addition, shoppers bought 15% more ice cream and desserts and 35% more pizza in early February than during the first two weeks of January.
Obviously, people begin the year with good intentions to lose weight but fall off the wagon within a month’s time. In fact, a study by Foursquare and Swarm revealed February 4th is the day people are most likely to fall off the wagon.
I too have been the victim of starting the year with new exercise and weight loss goals only to stop a few months or weeks into the year. It is very difficult to change a bad habit or start a new habit when you have little or no success in that area of your life.
Regardless, every year I evaluate my accomplishments and short comings of the previous year and set new goals for the coming one. I enjoy setting and reaching goals because it gives me a sense of success and achievement. Though I never reach all of my goals, I do accomplish things that I never would have done had I not set some specific goals for the year.
Paul said in Philippians 3:12-14:
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Always looking forward toward new or higher goals gives us a positive outlook on life and keeps us focused on something good rather than focusing on our past failures. Every one of us can point to things we don’t do well, failures, or character flaws in our lives. No one is perfect. But we do not have to let our failures define who we are.
In addition, we can all point to things we have accomplished or done well in life. Though this can be a great source of encouragement to us, it can also hold us back if we focus too much on the past without looking toward new goals. Focusing too long on our achievements can make us prideful and prevent us from seeing that we have potential to continue doing more with our lives.
Paul said that he put the past behind him. This includes his failures and accomplishments. He continued to focus upon what was in front of him and the goal of achieving God’s higher calling for his life.
We should not forget the lessons that we have learned from our failures and disappointments but we must not allow the past to hold us back from striving to do better. Sometimes we need to forgive others as well as forgive ourselves and then move forward. Forgiveness is sometimes much easier talked about than achieved. It can be very difficult depending upon the extent of the pain. Yet, for those who know Jesus Christ, forgiveness rests at the very core their existence. We have been forgiven much through Christ’s death and shed blood. We are called to forgive as he has forgiven us.
Looking forward is the essence of hope. In Jesus Christ our hope is an assurance of what he has promised regarding our eternal destiny and our life here on earth. We have the assurance of eternal life with Jesus not because of what we have done but because of what he has done. We also have the assurance of his power and presence in our lives for he promised to never leave or forsake us.
Therefore, let me encourage you to look forward to this New Year by setting some realistic goals for what you would like to accomplish in order to grow in your relationship with the Lord and to improve your life here on earth.
Let us commit to strive toward achieving the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.