I am going to work out every day and read as many books as I can in one year and go gluten-free and think more positive thoughts and do more random acts of kindness.

Sound familiar?

Why do New Year’s resolutions fail? asks Ray Williams at Psychology Today .

Why does the thrill of novelty fizzle, and why does it happen so quickly? Most New Year’s resolutions fail by February.

Among the top new years resolutions, says Williams, are: weight loss, quitting smoking, debt reduction, and better money management.

“People make resolutions as a way of motivating themselves,” Williams writes, “ . . . people aren’t ready to change their habits, particularly bad habits, and that accounts for the high failure rate.”

Maybe the problem is just that: People are trying to motivate themselves . The thing is, we are not meant to go it alone. We are not meant even for “newness” in and of itself, but to be re-newed by the one upon whom we depend. As long as I am my own self-motivator, as long as my resolution does not line up with God’s will, it will end in frustration and end quickly. Rather, the motivator must come from outside myself—from the Holy Spirit.

As I was reminded by a wise religious sister of the Servants of God’s Presence, the sisters of Heart’s Home, there is a difference between action and activism. A true action is one done through, with, in, and for God—one that is filled with meaning, purpose, and God’s grace. Activism on the other hand is the temptation to do things just to do them, to do things for myself so that I’ll feel competent, important, in control. How easy it is to cross that line! Even the truest, purest action is plagued by the human tendency to fall into activism.

As Heart’s Home founder Father Thierry de Roucy says, God wants, “Men and women who don’t hand over their work once it is finished, but who entrust it to Him before they even start and, on the way, ask for His help and when finished lay it down on His heart.”

But no resolution, not even faith, can be maintained alone. The one bit of advice that rings true to me from the New Year’s resolution gurus is that all should have an  “accountability buddy.” We are created to walk in communion with one another, to open each others eyes to the grandeur of God in the mundane, to console one another, to rejoice with one another, to adore and worship God as one family, and to remind each other that we are not on this earth for our enjoyment but for the glory of he who made us.

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