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No matter how many different types of resolutions we choose to write down and work on this coming year, all the items on our lists are actually just one resolution.

At first glance this statement may seem like an attempt to simplify resolutions to make successfully accomplishing them easier. But understanding that all resolutions point to one problem to fix doesn’t make successfully accomplishing goals easy. Successfully accomplishing goals, whatever they may be, proves to be the hardest work we do. However, once we’re honest and successful through the process, then each repeated attempt at accomplishing a goal will be easier and more automatic.

The Same Goal, But Different Results

Brenda is a devoted mother to her five children. She gives most of her daily time and energy to them. She reads to them, feeds them, teaches them, works with them and trains them up right. For the last eight years, Brenda has hoped for one thing: joy. She knows she should find more joy in what she does. But for some reason each day she finds herself unfulfilled, rundown, and never having time of her own to do what she wants to do. Each year her resolution is to become a more joyful mother. This is a good goal.

Why does Brenda not accomplish this goal each year? Because she hasn’t taken full responsibility for feeling joy yet. Brenda feels like joy must just naturally happen to people. She tries to stay open and ready for joy to suddenly hit her out of the blue, but it never does. She’s passively waiting for her joyful moments to arrive, and when she finds a spontaneously joyful moment she takes pictures, writes about it in her journal, and tells all her friends about the perfect moment of her life. Then her non-joyful reality hits her again as she drags herself through the daily grind of motherhood.

Nicole lives next door to Brenda. She also has five children and spends her days playing, cooking, reading, teaching, nursing and training her children. Eight years ago, when she and Brenda heard a talk by a powerful speaker about the importance of joy in life, she came home inspired. She realized that going through the motions of motherhood was not enough for her. She wanted to have her “bucket filled” and her “saw sharpened” every day so that she could enjoy each of the moments in her motherhood journey.

Nicole studied and journaled about joy and made it her goal for the upcoming year. This year, as part of her annual New Year’s resolution process, she took her list to God in prayer so that she could have a unified start with Him as she made her new life changes. She asked God to forgive her for not being joyful as often as she should have been up to that point. And then she told Him that she had chosen to see each moment as a moment meant for her and a moment to serve Him.

She asked God to help her control her selfish tendencies to be lazy, look at what didn’t go right each day, and to help her to stop making excuses for not feeling joy the previous day. Then she told God she would report back to Him though prayer daily and journal about the blessings she noticed and the joy she felt daily. She deliberately chose to love her life and see each moment with her children as the time intended to strengthen her, “fill her bucket,” and empower her, and not as moments to tear her down and make life miserable.

After a few months of reporting and deliberately choosing to love and have gratitude for each moment of every day, she was a different person. Her goal was well on its way to being accomplished.

How to Successfully Accomplish Your Goal

Brenda and Nicole wanted the same good thing. They both made increased joy as their resolution, but one person was successful and one person wasn’t. In this true story the goal was to be joyful in their roles as a mother, but the goal could have been anything. It could have been to overcome a media or social addiction, exercise daily, speak kindly about others, or it could have been any other self-improvement desire. The scenarios would have played out the same for each woman no matter what goal they were working on because Nicole understands resolutions differently than Brenda does.

Brenda sees a resolution as something to hope for when things aren’t going right. Brenda invests her emotions into these hopes because her emotions have tricked her into thinking they are the most powerful part of her. When things don’t go according to her hopes, then her emotions usually get the better of her.

Nicole sees a resolution as a personal course correction — whether things are bearable or not. She looks at herself and locates her weakness. Then she repents for her wrong thinking or doing and deliberately chooses to take full responsibility for her success by changing her thinking and actions. She also holds herself accountable to God and her journal. This simple yet profoundly inspiring process we all attempt annually can be called taking responsibility or sincerely repenting, as well as learning self-control, self-government, self-mastery, the cycle for success, and many other phrases. But in reality, it’s all the same thing.

This principle of learning to govern ourselves to achieve personal freedom has been the solution to overcoming personal hang-ups and the key to personal happiness throughout history. Ever since the very beginning of time all inspiring stories have centered on overcoming our weaknesses to find increased strength. As we overcome our weaknesses we find ourselves more honest and humble, which open the doors to increased spirituality, understanding and greater personal power and influence. This is due to our abundance of freedom, which others who have not yet conquered their weaknesses do not have.

No matter what our personal weakness is (and we all have lists of them), it represents a self-government problem. To really be successful we must fully repent and practice self-government, which means taking deliberate responsibility. This is what all true resolutions require, and that’s the way it should be. Repenting and renewing our commitment to becoming who we know God knows we can be is the key to peace and joy within ourselves and throughout the world. How glorious it is that the world celebrates each new year with a tradition of repenting of our short comings and a quest for self-improvement so that we can experience greater daily joy!

Happy New Year!

Nicholeen has many books and audio classes dedicated to helping families strengthen family relationship through the principles of self-government.