New New Year’s Resolutions: The Key to a Better 2021?

By Mark A. Kellner
Posted December 28, 2020

At this point in the year, people around the world start making declarations of resolve for the new year, our “New Year’s Resolutions.” We vow to lose weight, exercise, stick to a budget, spend more time with the family and less time tethered to our jobs. Or we promise to quit certain behaviors, foreswearing the consumption of cigarettes or alcohol or carbohydrates or gluten, among other things. 

By mid-February, however, most of those resolutions become distant memories. Living room couches beckon; athletic clubs notice a sharp drop in attendance; barflies can be found at their old haunts. And life gradually settles back into its normal merry-go-round for the creatures of habit that we are—until, of course, the end of the year comes again, and our annual self-improvement ritual grabs our attention once more.

Boy holding Bible

Clinical psychologist and Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of Rochester in New York state, Richard Ryan, renowned for his motivational research, confirms: “The evidence shows that most of the time people aren’t successful at [keeping their resolutions].”

Benjamin Hardy, bestselling author of Willpower Doesn’t Work: Discover the Hidden Keys to Success, blamed procrastination: “The bigger the change or project, the more likely we will procrastinate and for longer durations. … Like debt, the longer you push the needed work into the future, the harder it becomes to face it.”


Resolution in Crisis

Then came 2020—or more accurately, COVID-19. And life as we knew it was gone in a flash.

Now, after nearly a year of Zoom meetings; cancelled holidays; and, for many families, tragedy, people are looking at New Year’s resolutions in a whole new light. A OnePoll survey of 2,000 Americans found that “seven in 10 adults … are tossing out their materialistic New Year’s resolutions for 2021” and opting for more long-term goals, like “saving money for the future,” or more sentimental ones, “like spending more time with their family.”

Columnist Chuck Jaffe of The Seattle Times proposed “Three Years’ resolutions” in an effort to battle the misery that is the coronavirus pandemic: “Set goals and targets for the next three years. That way, you look past the pandemic to where things stand once we reach new normal. … Focus on what you want to recapture, rebuild, protect and improve.”

As befits any crisis, people’s priorities have changed. Looking at life through the lens of uncertainty puts things into perspective. You suddenly care more about spending time with loved ones than binge-watching your favorite television show. It’s suddenly easier to save a few extra dollars this week because you don’t know if you’ll be working the next week. Or, as Jaffe put it, “A promise to … bake better sourdough bread … really isn’t inspiring or life-changing right now.”

Change breeds change. Finder.com, “an independent comparison platform and information service” based in New York City, reported, “An estimated 188.9 million adult Americans (74.02% of the population) say they’re determined to learn something new, make a lifestyle change or set a personal goal in an effort to better themselves in 2021, a 15.17% increase from the previous year.”

It seems like this is not just cheap talk. People are serious about making “real progress.” The OnePoll survey reported that 45 percent of Americans are even mapping out “checkpoints throughout the year,” and 44 percent have “a game plan of specific steps for each of their new goals.” We’re talking about accountability here.


The Bible Key

So it looks like people are wanting real change in their lives. The year 2020 was a lot of things to a lot of people, but one thing is certain: People don’t want another year like it.

But will the majority still be overlooking the best resolution of all? The truth of the matter is that real change has always been “real” simple: The key, whether in a pandemic year or not, is to become more and more like Jesus in our daily lives. In fact, perhaps even more keenly felt this year was an utter dependence upon Christ and a chilling reminder of any lack of security in the world: “And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:17); “the grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever” (Isaiah 40:8).

Jesus desires for us to depend upon Him. He tells His disciples, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:29). And 2 Corinthians 3:18 reads, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” Surrender to Christ brings real change that, like His Word, lasts forever.

“As you read His Word, and the truths of God’s history and story are impressed upon your mind, and as you pray and as you look at the character of Jesus, you’ll be transformed,” encourages Pastor Doug Batchelor in his free online Bible study “Reformation: The Willingness to Grow and Change.”

Why not start with Pastor Doug’s suggestion? Read God’s Word with a willing and prayerful heart—and it is guaranteed that your life will begin to change. That’s a promise straight from Jesus. We can even help in your resolution game plan. Our Bible study course is not only free; it’s available online, and definitely able to be completed within the new year. So start your New Year’s resolution today!

Mark Kellner
Mark A. Kellner is a staff writer for Amazing Facts International. He is a veteran journalist whose work has been published in Religion News Service, The Washington Times, and numerous computer magazines.
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