How to Keep Those New Year’s Resolutions

By Dr. Tom Kennedy

According to research, most of us make New Year’s resolutions but over 90% will break the resolution, usually in a few weeks. Let me give you some encouragement that may help you be successful in the long run.

Usually we set our goals too high.  I suggest you have a low bar and a high bar for each goal.  Set a minimum level that you will do every day, no matter what happens, but try to exceed it when you can.

For example, if you need exercise you may plan to start walking around the block five times a day.  However, I encourage you to set a low bar for crisis times.  In this case, walk around the block one time a day.  If there is a time crunch or the weather’s bad, do the minimum one time without fail.

Why is this important?  It keeps us in the routine even if it is very little effort.  Developing and keeping the routine is probably the most important pathway to long term success.  A regular routine will emerge into a powerful habit.  Keep in mind that making a habit stronger is easier than developing one in the first place. 

Another example may be related to Bible reading.  I communicate with people who struggle with Bible reading.  In the beginning for these folks I suggest they read only one scripture a day, BUT I encourage them to think about the meaning of that one scripture for at least 30 seconds.  Usually the most BRADD (Bible reading attention deficit disorder) of us will read one scripture a day and think about it for 30 seconds.  Thirty seconds may not seem to be a long time, but, with focus, it is easy to be inspired in less than 30 seconds.  I recommend they get a scripture emailed to them from   That site will send a daily scripture to an email address for free.  (I am not endorsing this site, just giving it as an example.)

Others may read from a devotional book.  For example, I use the best seller, Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence, by Sarah Young for my devotions for 2019 (click here for review).  It has very short but powerful devotions with two to three scriptures at the bottom of each page.  Most people with BRADD can do a day’s devotion. I do caution that reading quickly does not allow it to sink in.  Once again, I suggest that a person think about the message of the devotion or verse for at least 30 seconds after reading it. 

In prayer I always suggest that people start with praise.  Praise will change one’s mood for the better (I am a psychologist) and help PADD (prayer attention deficit disorder) people to focus on God.  There are more steps to prayer, but I ask the PADD people I work with to at least accomplish the low bar of singing a short praise song every day and think about the words as they sing.  Thinking about the words focuses one on God even if the music doesn’t.  When they have more time, they can expand their prayer to include other areas.  Singing out loud is best and can be done in the car.

What is your New Year’s resolution?  Set a high and low bar.  Achieve the high bar when you can, but always complete the low bar when you don’t have time.  Soon you will have a powerful, positive habit in your life.

May you have a very blessed 2019!!

Click on the Christian books titles and one secular book below for inspiration and guidance that may change your life. 

Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence, Young (Best-selling Christian devotional).

Celebration of Discipline, Foster (Christian: spiritual activities that will truly deepen your spiritual life)

Girl, Wash Your Face, Hollis  (Best selling Christian Inspirational Book) 

NO Excuses, Tracy (secular best-seller on how to get your life focused and stay strong.  I require this book for my counseling students)

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