And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” So Jesus said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!”

-Matthew 14:28-30

Here are four reasons resolutions don’t often work, and keep us in the boat of comfort or predicability.
Here are a few tips for making 2013 a “stepping out of the boat” kind of year:

1. Make Decisions That Are Meaningful.
Goals like “lose weight” or “decrease debt” are vague and uninspiring. Goals work much better when they’re set within a narrative context. Frodo would not have gone on his journey unless the fate of Middle Earth depended on it.

It’s like that with us, too. Without a narrative context, we have little motivation to become different people than we are. When God created the Garden of Eden, He didn’t put a gym in the middle of it. Instead, He gave Adam an ambition that made him come alive. He told Adam to name the animals. Then he motivated Adam with a love story, then a family. He launched man into a story and man has been designed to live within a story ever since.

Want to lose weight? Try participating in a walkathon or tennis tournament for charity. Maybe teach an exercise class at a retirement center. You’d be amazed at how changing your narrative context engages your mind, heart and spirit.

2. Make A Plan.
The counterpart to planning is spontaneous order. And most New Years Resolutions rely, sadly, on spontaneous order. We think a goal is going to pull us through, but it won’t. We need to make a plan. Planning involves considering and organizing activities required to achieve a goal. Without a plan, resolutions most certainly fail. I’ll talk more about making a plan below.

3. Don’t Forget.
Seriously, once the car broke down and the baby got sick and the boss demanded we get the assignment in early, we simply forgot we made resolutions at all. We didn’t write the resolutions down in a place we could check from time to time. Posting the stories we want to live in a place where we can see them and review them often will keep us on track well into February and beyond.

4. Step Into Something That Is For You.
So what if being a skinny super model or a fifty-year old jock just isn’t for you? We will never be motivated to fulfill somebody else’s expectations. Sadly, many people’s resolutions fail because they’re trying to become something they aren’t. Instead, what if our resolutions were in line with our own stories, our passions, our desires, our deepest wants? Of course, the key is to better understand what our passions actually are.

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