By Jeremy Reynalds, Ph.D.

Founder and CEO

Joy Junction Inc.

new-years-resolutions-300x256With Thanksgiving and Christmas behind us, are you beginning to think about the seemingly inevitable subject of new year’s resolutions?

You know, stuff like resolving to be a better person, changing jobs, quitting smoking, eating less and exercising more, or some other personal goal you hope to achieve in the upcoming year. While we all know that usually these well-intentioned resolutions don’t last past the first few days of January, we keep on making them all the same.

It’s no secret that intending to eat less and exercise more are probably two of the most popular resolutions. Sometimes the resolve to exercise more is motivated by a well-meaning relative or friend giving a gym membership, or perhaps a gift of a half dozen lessons with a trainer.

I was talking some time ago with people at the gym about how the first two or three weeks of January are always bustling with new members, and then as the month wears on the number of “newbies” plummets.

And as that resolution to exercise more falls by the wayside, many times so do those lessons with the trainer. The new year quickly turns into just another year, with all those good intentions put off till next year.

With resolutions generally being such a dismal failure, I was wondering how (and why) we came up with the concept. With that in mind, I did a little online research about new year’s resolutions and found that the tradition dates back over four thousand years to the time of the early Babylonians.

Apparently the most popular resolution back then for the Babylonians was to return borrowed farm equipment. To correspond with the spring planting of their crops, the Babylonians celebrated in March rather than in January.

I also checked out a U.S. government site, which listed a number of popular resolutions and corresponding links to help in their fulfillment. Although in no apparent order, last on the list that year was to volunteer to help others. Top of the list was to drink less alcohol.

I wondered how new year’s resolutions from members of our Joy Junction life recovery program stacked up with the typical resolutions which we all make and break.

I was reminded of a story I wrote a couple of years ago about new year’s resolutions, in which a participant told a former Joy Junction staff member that he doesn’t make new year’s resolutions, as to do so would be to “set myself up for failure.”

That staff member’s response was, “No blame there. Coming from a recovery perspective, ‘resolving’ to do anything sounds like attempting to dig a tunnel through a mountain with a spoon.”

However, others do make simple and poignant resolutions, and like those from past years, some of those listed for 2016 almost sounded like prayers.

Respondents wrote their resolutions, and turned them into program instructor Denis Billy.

One member of our nine month Christ in Power life recovery program (CIPP) said he wants to graduate CIPP. He is also resolving to be more positive, less negative and focus on God’s Word.

He added, “I will set attainable goals. I plan to surround myself with positive people and remain clean and sober.”

Another guy said his resolution is to change his life and totally stay away from drugs. He said, “I want to be a better parent. I don’t want to drink or chew tobacco.”

A female member of the CIPP program said she wants to keep clean. She continued, “I want to improve my mind, heart and soul. I also want to get closer to God. I want to complete the CIPP program and find a job.”

One woman said she would like to become more productive and responsible. She added, “In this, I believe everything else will follow suit, such as, housing, job, family and most importantly my relationship with God.”

Wanting to be more honest with herself and allowing God to love her the way He wants was one woman’s desire. To accomplish that, she said, “I will spend more quiet time with God. I will be more open to people helping me in my spiritual growth.”

God and staying “on the wagon” was on this woman’s mind. She said, “I will remain sober and make better choices and to build a better, closer relationship with God.”

God was the topic of many people’s new year resolutions. One woman said, “I would like to change my relationship with the Lord, my thoughts and train of thought towards others,” while a man said he wants to get closer to God and “know Him more.”

That same staff member I referred to above told me something which will always be true for whoever teaches our recovery class. “As their instructor, my heart skips a beat when I read such ‘prayers,’ because I see that our programmers are ‘getting it.’ They are grabbing a hold of relationship with the God of the Bible. That relationship is expanding into every area of their lives, like a splash in a pool.”

How do your resolutions stack up with these?