"There is no more lovely, friendly and charming relationship, communion or company than a good marriage."
--Martin Luther

Monday, 14 January 2013

Resolutions, Intentions, and Planning for a New Year

I'm not huge on making new year's resolutions. For much of my life, my resolutions typically involved health and weight-loss... even at those times when I really didn't need to lose weight. Moreover, these resolutions were generally abandoned a few weeks into the year. With this not-so-excellent track record, I've become wary of making resolutions. On the other hand, I am a big fan of goal-setting and looking ahead. This has become a bit more important for me now that I am married and have a house and have realized that I can no longer put things into the category of “I'll do that LATER when I'm grown up/settled/etc.” Life seems to be moving faster and faster as I get older. If I want to learn something or get into a new habit, I really should be doing it now, especially if it's something that will benefit my faith journey, my marriage, or my future children.

This has led me to think more deeply about what I want to achieve this year. I can think of lots of things that I should be changing, but which ones are most important? Instead of making one-off resolutions, I want to think about where I want to be in 2014, and make resolutions to help get me there. One of my university friends has a more comprehensive and far-sighted attitude to looking into the new year. She sets out both goals and intentions. The goals are things that are achievable by her own strength. (N.B. “Achievable” does not imply that they are easy!) Obviously, I know that all things are done through God and His strength, but the general idea is that a goal is something I can do without relying someone or something to be involved. For example, I could make a goal to run a marathon this year. I know I can do this, because I've run a half-marathon before, and if I pushed, could do more. This could be derailed by injury or illness, but otherwise, I could do it (although I have no plans to). An intention is something you want to do, but even if you do everything possible, it still might not happen. For example, you may want to get a new job this year, or to pregnant, or to make new friends. You can do things to help make your intention a reality, but you can't make it happen on your own.

After some thinking and praying, I wrote down a few goals and intentions for the year ahead, and I made a resolutions to do with each of them. I won't tell them all, because some are more personal, but I'll share one goal and one intention.

Goal: To grow in faith this year. I wrote this as a goal, although I suppose it's also an intention because God needs to take part in it. Nevertheless, I know that when my faith walk is not strong, it's usually because I have been lazy in prayer and Bible reading, and I know that the Word says if I draw near to God, He will draw near to me.

Action: Journaling. I used to journal alllllll the time, to pour out all my thoughts into volumes of notebooks, but since getting married, my journal entries have been woefully sparse. Writing in a journal does not make me holy, of course, but I find it helpful to be intentional about writing down what I am learning and keeping track of my prayer requests, etc. I love looking back on old journals and being reminded of what God did in my life during that time period. This year, I have resolved to journal at least once per week.

Intention: To make new friends and strengthen existing friendships. I've written a couple of times about how it's been difficult to make friends. After reading one of my previous posts, a friend suggested I check out the book MWF Seeking BFF, which relates one woman's experiences trying to make friends in a new city. The author also adds a lot of research on friendship, what makes people click, etc. It was an interesting read, and one thing I took out of it is that in this stage of life, making friends takes effort. The author put herself out there and consistently tried to meet with new people and then to follow-up on good matches. The book reminded me that I cannot continue to do almost nothing, and then lament that I haven't made any friends.

Action: Put myself out there more. Ask potential friends out for coffee. Invite people over (even though they might see how messy our house is). Get better at staying in touch with my current friends. We'll see how this goes...

As you all know, another of my resolutions is to read more books about marriage, and try to apply what I've learned. I've picked up the Timothy Keller book and am excited to share about it in the future.

So what about you? Do you have a resolution or goal for this year?


  1. Hi Maggie! Found you through the Our Nest in the City blog and am so glad I did! Seems we have a lot in common - namely, having Mandarin-speaking in-laws. I'm also trying to learn the language and it's so tough!

    LOVE the idea of having goals and intentions, and taking the time to actually think through an action. I might need to borrow that approach :)

  2. Thanks for stopping by! Mandarin is definitely a challenge, but I am enjoying it so far.

    You're welcome to borrow my goal-setting approach, especially as I borrowed it from my former roommate. :-)