Up Front and Personal

Ask God for Help with New Year’s Resolutions

By now, you have probably seen the heartwarming Polish Christmas ad that has been watched more than 12 million times. It tells the tale of an aging man trying to learn English alone at home, labeling household objects with Post-its before taking a trip to the United Kingdom and … actually, it is probably best if you watch the video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=tU5Rnd-HM6A (warning, there is some cursing at the 1:30 mark).

This ad, besides bringing happy tears, also shows us how once we have goals that are worthwhile, we can take steps to achieve them. With that in mind, here are some ways to think of New Year’s resolutions and the steps to follow through with them.

The first step is to decide what to concentrate your energies on in 2017. A way to do this is to choose a “word of the year.”

“One simple word that will help you decide between X and Y, and help you remember what’s important when you find yourself in an endless loop” of options that distract you from what matters to you, said Claire Diaz-Ortiz, an author, speaker and technology innovator, during a webinar.

Invite God and the Holy Spirit to guide you in finding what matters most at this point in your life. The word – or short phrase – could be family, breathe, pray, perseverance, service to others – you get the idea. This can be a North Star to direct and define your actions all year long.

It is not too early to start thinking how 2017 can be better. Since New Year’s is a chance for renewal, here are some smartphone apps with resources to reconnect with God: https://catholicapps.com/.

Try some of them and see what is most helpful to you. You can incorporate them into your routine in 2017. And here are some ideas for New Year’s resolutions from Pope Francis: https://cnsblog.wordpress.com/2015/01/01/pope-francis-suggested-new-years-resolutions/.

Another way to prepare for the next year is to organize resolutions into S.M.A.R.T. goals. These need to be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant to the season of life you are in and timely. Without him even realizing it, these factors were part of the goal that the man from the commercial set to accomplish.

It is OK to have bigger resolutions such as getting closer to God, practicing gratitude, being present to others, living more simply or getting healthy. But breaking them into little goals pushes you to have a timeline of concrete steps to truly accomplish them.

For example, if one of your goals is to make a difference in your community, you can have smaller steps like committing to volunteer weekly at a specific place. You succeed through small, manageable changes over time.

Lastly, keep trying and resist the urge to quit if, for some reason, you start slipping in your resolutions. The new year gives us a chance for new beginnings and opportunities – ask God for guidance and strength to persevere.