Planning for change and looking for the best new year's resolutions

Do’s and Don’ts of Goals and Habits

     Do you ever wonder what the best New Year’s resolutions are? Or, maybe you have tried making resolutions over and over, and you have decided that they just don’t work and aren’t worth it. I think most of us (myself included) have experienced the excitement of making big plans for the new year, only to find that excitement dwindle away and life go on pretty much the way it did the last year. There are definitely some problems with traditional New Year’s resolutions, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t set goals and try to change our habits. We just need to go about it the right way. In this post, we will look at some common mistakes as well as some simple tips to help your goals stick!

All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the Lord weigheth the spirits. Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established.

Proverbs 16:2-3

Goal Setting and Habit Tracking Mistakes

Gold clock

1. Can be overwhelming

     Have you ever written out a long list of New Year’s resolutions? It may seem inspiring and get you excited at first. However, it probably won’t be long at all before that list becomes overwhelming. In fact, it may overwhelm you right away. Being overwhelmed is not really the best way to go about trying to make changes and improvements.

2. Often too general

    All to often, goals or resolutions are written vaguely. You may say that you want to do better at having your devotions or that you want to lose weight. These are very general. How will you even be able to monitor your progress and see if you are improving or what changes you should make?

Notebook that says Don't Give Up! and has green leaves lying on it

3. Exciting but not lasting

     Besides the fact that it can be overwhelming, trying to change too many things at one time does not usually work. You may get excited in the beginning thinking about how different your life will be. I’ve done it too. But, after the excitement wears off, most of the change usually does too.

4. Often based on our strength

     I’ve definitely been guilty of this one and still am at times. When we set goals, we often try to run on enthusiasm to achieve them. This is not what we are meant to run on. No, we have perfect and unchanging strength waiting for us at the feet of Jesus. Our strength will never be enough.

woman kayaking for exercise

5. Leave you feeling like a failure

     Do you know what I’m referring to? When you make a list of resolutions or goals and then look back on them later, it’s a terrible feeling if you see that you have not been achieving them. We set ourselves up for failure in the way we plan and try to make changes. And, then we get discouraged when that failure comes. We may even begin to feel hopeless and like we can’t change. You know what? That’s the perfect place to be! Yes, you read that right. That is just the right place for change to begin to happen.

Goal Setting and Habit Tracking Tips

prayer journal open to Prayer List

1. Should be started with prayer

     When we start trying to achieve our goals in our strength, we are sure to fail. Sure, we may do some things that look good on the outside, but our motives probably aren’t right. We can only truly do what’s right when Jesus is living His life in and through us. Only He can do what’s right. We must come before Him and ask Him to live through us. Ask His Holy Spirit to produce the fruit of the Spirit in us. No matter what it is you’re wanting to do, asking Jesus to do it through you is the first step!

2. Set a few goals

     While it’s usually best not to set an overabundance of goals, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t set goals. In fact, there’s nothing wrong with having a long list of goals. If you want to take things off your mind by writing out lists, I have some free planner pages here for you to use to make your lists. The problem with long lists comes in if you try to work on all of those goals and habits at the same time. It’s better to write out your master list and then add them into your schedule a little at a time.

3. Add one habit at a time

     Once you have a list of habits, only try to add in one new one at a time. A habit tracker is a wonderful way to introduce new habits and monitor your progress to know when you need to make adjustments. I offer a free 28 Day Planner Challenge that comes with directions for using a habit tracker. It also has other categories such as a weekly and a daily to-do list. If you are interested in a full year long planner in a similar style, I have one for sale in my shop!

4. Make specific goals

     When you are writing out your goals and habits that you would like to form, make them specific. For example, if you wanted to lose weight (a common New Year’s resolution), you might write ‘lose weight.’ Instead of this, it would probably be more helpful to set a certain amount that you wanted to lose during a certain time. For example, you could write ‘Lose 15 pounds in a year.’ To go a step further, you should also think about the changes you will need to make for this to happen, such as diet and exercise.

To Do List and pencil on notebook

5. Monitor progress

     Writing specific goals will enable you to review and see how they’re going. You can see if you need to make changes to reach your goals. When you do reach them, you will know that you did it and be able to thank the Lord for His help and strength and enjoy the milestone!


Sign Up!


Simple Takeaway

  1. Don’t try to change in your own strength. Seek the Lord! True and lasting change for good can only come from Him.
  2. Set specific goals and then monitor progress.
  3. Don’t try to change too many things at one time. It’s okay to write out a long list to get it off your mind and then only work on one or two things at a time.

Let’s Chat!

     Do you prefer resolutions, goals, or habits? What tips do you have to add to this list?

     Until next time, seek the Lord’s help in making and achieving the goals He has for you!

In Christ,


You may also like...


  1. Such a great reminder that we can’t do anything in our own strength! It’s so easy to strive to “do better” and fall short every time – because we’re leaning on the arm of flesh! Thanks for posting, Bethany! 🙂

    1. That is so true, Vanessa! It’s a reminder that I need often. When I was proofreading this post, the Lord used it to speak to my heart on praying about my goals for 2022. Only through Him can we reach the perfect plan He has for us! Thank you for commenting and brightening my day!

  2. Definitely needed the encouragement right now about the Lord’s strength and not my own “strength”! Thank you, Bethany!☺
    Lovely post!
    I hope you are having a wonderful start to 2022!☺

    1. Thank you so much for your sweet comment, Jill! This is a reminder I also need continually. I thoroughly enjoyed opening your letter and happy mail on Christmas day! I’m praying for you, friend!!

      But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

      1. Thank you so much for your prayers, sweet sister in Jesus! 🙂

        1. You’re so welcome, sweet sister in Jesus! 🙂

  3. Cat Thompson says:

    Good points! Thank you for your words, Bethany!

    1. Thank you so much for brightening my evening with your lovely comment, Cat!!

      Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *