Why Your Resolutions Aren’t Working

Ask A Runner - 12

If you’re living in a messy marriage (and who isn’t to some degree or another?), you probably want change, at least for the better. Problem is, you might want that change to occur in your spouse rather than strapping the load to your own back.

Mistake Number 1 – Expecting your marriage to get better by trying to “fix” or change your spouse.

I hate to break it to you, but even though you’re “one” in the eyes of the Lord, you are not “one” in perspective or motivation. Just remember this: You are not the Holy Spirit in your spouse’s life—only God is the real change agent in your spouse.

Mistake Number 2 – Confusing a goal with a desire

My New Year’s resolution is to “die to myself and live to Christ.” Lofty goal, I know. And really, it is not a goal per se. It is a desire. That’s because a goal involves specific, measurable criteria. I can’t determine if I’ve reached 50% “death to my selfish desires.” What I need to do is find specific tasks that help me practice “dying.”

For example, I’m praying daily the “Psalm 139:23-24 request” that God search my heart and reveal my sin. Then when He reveals my sin, I quickly confess it to Him and another, like my husband. I’m also reading a book that deepens my understanding of my sin nature, which I will tell you specifically about in an upcoming post.

Doing specific tasks that I can identify as “done” or “not done” helps me to achieve my goal and in turn obtain my desire. Use this template as a way to see if you’re New Year’s resolutions are goals or desires.

Mistake Number 3 – Trying to do it all by yourself

It goes without saying that I want to include God in this process. Without His Word challenging my heart daily or His Spirit convicting me of sin, I wouldn’t be able to truly “die.” But even if your goal is to work-out more, then asking God to give you the motivation to persevere is critical. He wants to be part of the process.

Also, involve friends. I’m part of a marriage prayer group and I’ve asked them to pray for me in this area. They know I want die to myself and live to Christ so that my marriage improves and deepens. They hold me accountable on that. And their support and prayers are making a difference!

Mistake Number 4 – Thinking failure is a cue to give up

Just the other day I really blew it. I felt this HUGE temptation to give up—to feel like I’ll never really change. But God reminded me of just how frail and human I am through that sinful act. It was good for me to see that and to realize He forgives me and wants me to use that experience to reignite my passion for my goal, relying on His strength this time around.

Is there a change you want to make in your life and marriage, but feel you’re losing steam or that “real change” isn’t happening?

Tell us about it!

That could be the first step to really confirming and clarifying your efforts to reach a goal. And remember restarting your pursuit of a goal is not failure but perseverance!

Photo by lululemon athletica


Linking up with NOBH, Imperfect Prose, New Life Steward and To Love Honor and Vacuum

21 responses to “Why Your Resolutions Aren’t Working”

  1. Wow Beth, you are right, we did have similar thoughts:) And it’s so true, we can’t try to change on our own and in our own strength. Timely words here. Blessings!


  2. mistake #1 … pouring our energy into fixing/rescuing/adjusting/correcting/nagging our spouse … or any other loved one.AGGGHH! what a disaster that always turns out to be.


  3. Great blog, Beth!When I’m tempted to think about trying to change Lenny, I love the reminder:If you consider how hard it is to change yourself, you’d never dream of trying to change someone else.And, yet, I still try, on occasion!Mistake number 4 is great wisdom for me as well. I attempted to get this message across to my kids at devotions this morning. The idea that failure is a bad thing is truly a social poison that the majority of us take.I like to see failure – when I can – as God’s hand working directly in my life to break what isn’t working so it can be rebuilt better.In fact, I’m sure that there is a passage somewhere in scripture about being thankful for struggles but I can’t seem to find it. Please let me know if you are familiar with it!


  4. Oh it is so tempting to quit, isn’t it?Making the changes to our lives (especially marriages) is so totally worth it though!Thanks for sharing!


  5. Visiting from WIP Wednesday… great suggestions! I especially love number 3, something we often overlook.


  6. I guess it’s on our minds this time of year. Thanks so much for your encouraging words and presence here at MM. I always enjoy visiting your site too. I think we are co-laborers in the fight for marriage and spiritual growth!


  7. Yes, and it seems to be a favorite of mine! You’d think by now I’d realize it when it’s happening–and truthfully, I do–but often want to do it anyway! It’s maddening, though, when I realize what I’ve just done. Thanks, as always, for your encouragement, Linda!


  8. Yes, your “reminder” is so true! We often have so much more patience with our own inability to change. Funny how that works! 😉 And it’s a daily challenge to let God have my struggles, but so very worth it when I do! Thanks for coming by, Colleen! I truly appreciate it!


  9. Yes, unfortunately, sometimes it is, Lori. But thankfully Christ whispers in our ears to keep on going in His strength instead of our own. I needed that momentary relapse, but it’s time to get back at it! Thanks so much for coming by and sharing a kind word with me!


  10. Yeah, it’s hard to include others–even God–in our efforts. I really don’t know why that is, because once we do, it’s amazing how much easier it is! Thanks so much for coming by and encouraging me, Elizabeth. I really appreciate it!


  11. Wow Beth, you and I are thinking along the same lines, just different angles…you have added so much depth to my thoughts. I am challenged this year to build measurable steps into my desires (which will turn them to real goals!). Last year I had plenty of marriage goals and wanted to simplify things in that area in 2013..but I think I’ve unknowingly gone into desire-mode, more than goal-mode. Thanks for the challenge.


  12. persevere was my word for 2012 — and here again…


  13. Thanks so much for your kind words, Ngina. I do think we “think” alike a lot of the time–at least what’s reflected in our posts. 🙂 And it sounds like a great idea to streamline or simplify your goals. I think many people get bogged down by too many goals–another mistake I could’ve added! Thanks again for your friendship!


  14. Yes, it seems to be one that God continues to whisper to me as well. I suppose that’s because that’s what He’s about–helping us to persevere in our faith. Thanks so much for coming by and encouraging me!


  15. I have a son wrestling with ADD, and we’ve been talking about this ideal of concrete, measurable goals. He keeps saying he is trying to change habits, and I believe him. Trying to convey this idea so he’ll have a better chance of success.Having said that, I know the Holy Spirit is at work in him, and that he who began a good work in him will bring it to completion.


  16. You have some very concrete points as to why one might continue to fall into unhealthy cycles, even when having someone’s best interest at heart. And you are so very right when you say that trying to achieve goals by yourself is a recipe for disaster. We most certainly need each other, don’t we?Visiting from Imperfect Prose today.


  17. Can I just say CHECK, CHECK, CHECK, CHECK on each mistake? Over the past year God has really been working on my heart with Mistake #1. It is a challenge because when you see that your spouse has some serious hurts and it is affecting them in a negative way, it is hard to NOT try and help them. I am so thankful for our marriage prayer group because I find strength when I’m ready to “change” my husband and I try to remember that it is only ME I can change. I hear them praying and God calms me and I’m able to stay quiet when need be. I have always had a DESIRE to be close to my husband and to be able to communicate in a healthy way and am setting small goals this year to help that desire be fulfilled. THANKS BETH!!


  18. I can relate – I have a son with ADD as well. I do see him improving though as he enters young adulthood. He’s 19. And yes, the Holy Spirit is a powerful help in all matters of life! Thanks so much for coming by, Nancy!


  19. Thanks so much for your encouraging words, Holly. And yes, I am a firm believer in seeking support. I wouldn’t be able to make it without my friends support and prayers!


  20. Look at it this way, you’re a “trailblazer”–finding all the potholes for the rest of us, Becky! haha! But I’m like you, even though I know the truth, I often make the same mistakes over and over. But am so thankful for the prayers of others that I know have helped me to make better choices or to see the mistake a bit sooner anyway! Thanks so much for coming by and weighing in!


  21. we are not the holy spirit in our spouse’s life… that is huge. and i love that you were so honest about wanting to give up. i appreciate that. and that you didn’t. 🙂


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