On New Year’s Resolutions

I love the new year.

I love New Years, anniversaries, birthdays (not the parties so much)…any natural pause in life that encourages me to reflect, repent, rejoice, and resolve.

But here’s my encouragement to you as you consider 2022 and some of the things you want to do and be; I tweeted it out awhile back:

I think faithful habits and rhythms are far more fruitful than chasing the fruit of goals and metrics — whether shredding the pounds or building the savings account. Even spiritual goals (“read through the Bible in a year,” etc.) aren’t my favorite. 


More and more the science of neuroplasticity is pointing to our habits as the formative practices of who we’re becoming (and what we do). There’s an old saying in Neuroscience that “neurons that fire together, wire together.” Meaning the more we do something the more your brain forms a pathway and shapes who we are and how we think and what we love. We are all living according to a specific regimen of habits, and those habits shape most of our life. 

A habit is a behavior that occurs automatically, over and over, and often unconsciously. A study from Duke University suggested that as much as 40 percent of the actions we take every day are not the products of choices but of habits (Justin Early, The Common Rule).

We are constantly forming micro habits that stack onto more habits, that lead to more habits, to where most of our day is actually automated. We make few actual deliberate choices.

James Clear, in his book Atomic Habits says, “Your habits are just a series of automatic solutions that solve the problems and stresses you face regularly… a habit is just a memory of the steps you previously followed to solve a problem in the past…Your habits are modern-day solutions to ancient desires.”

So on January 1st, instead of setting a goal to read through the Bible in a year, I would rather you wake up, commune with God through his word, and resolve to do it again the next day, and the next, and again. We need counter-formative rhythms to disrupt the automation that has already set in every time you pick up your phone and start scrolling.


The reality is every habit, every regular rhythm in our lives function as a sort of spiritual discipline. Netflix and iPhones and working out and eating, all form our souls…they’re doing something to us, and we’d be foolish to think they aren’t. “You are what you eat,” moms of ol’ used to say. Our regular rhythms shape what we love and think and desire and do.

So in John 15, when Jesus says “abide in me and you will bear much fruit,” what he’s saying is that you’re always abiding in something. The lingering presence of your phone or your consumeristic practices shape you. When you look at your automated life, who are you becoming?

“Abide in me, linger in my presence, stay here, commune with me, relate to me, remain in me.”

Jesus is saying, make me your habit. What if when you look back at 2022 next December that’s what marked your year? Not goals or stats or metrics or numbers or dollars. But an addiction to Jesus. 

For sure, get after the gym, cut some spending, read more books…but make Jesus your keystone habit. Abide in him, and you will bear much fruit.