Theme Based Resolutions

Theme Based Resolutions: Throw the List Away!

The Custom

As a new year begins it is customary, if not cliché, to make New Year’s resolutions. For many, these resolutions are things like join a gym, read more books, have a better devotional life or quit some habit. The fitness industry finances its entire fiscal year in January as people sign up for memberships and purchase all the accouterments that go along with the new year’s resolution makeover.

Here’s a pro-tip join the last week of December so your already there when the newbies start, and you can feel like you’re not one of those people who have to wait till New Years to join a gym.

It would be practically impossible to get the statistics on resolutions broken versus kept, but I don’t think anyone would be surprised to find that the pile of good intentions is much larger than the collection of those kept resolutions.

If you’re like me, you have probably found yourself, at the end of the year, looking back over failed attempts at some significant life change and surmised that the problem was that you were too ambitious. You had bitten off more than you could chew. If only you would have taken a smaller first step, then maybe this year would have yielded better results.

Theme-based Resolutions

In 2018, I decided that I had had enough of resolutions and decided to take a different approach to self-improvement during the circumnavigation of the earth around the Sun. Instead of a resolution, I set an intention. Rather than creating a list of specific objectives that were easy to fail at I decided on a more subjective approach. I set a theme for 2018.

I know that sounds like a cop-out, but I decided to aim for an ethereal ideal with no real measure of success. Before you dismiss me as some lazy bum who didn’t want to fail anymore, hear me out.

Over the final few weeks of 2018, I spent time reflecting back over what God has done and I have achieved towards my aim. My theme for 2018 was “To live presently before my sovereign God.”

There were two key elements in that theme for me.

First, I wanted to be more mindful of the present moment. Second, I wanted to be more submissive to Gods will for my life.

Once I had settled on this theme, I committed it to God. Then promptly went to make a list of all the resolutions… I mean “steps” I was going to follow to achieve my goal. That approach lasted slightly longer than my normal resolutions, but only by a week or so.

When all my good intentions had once again failed me, I refocused on my theme. I didn’t make any more resolutions. Instead, I refocused my attention, I regularly reminded myself of my theme for the year. It took some time and if you had checked in with me around April and May you would have found things looking like they were off the rails as my wife and I tried to figure out where God was leading us and preparing for a move.

But by July, things were coming back around and as the year began to end, I hit my stride right after losing my job. From the outside, 2018 didn’t look so hot. There were a lot of ups and downs, emotionally it was a rough year. Yet looking back, I would say that 2018 was a success! I learned to live presently before my sovereign God. The hard way.

I am currently praying and reflecting as I prepare to set my theme for the upcoming year. I would encourage you to do the same.

Take some time and talk with God about what you want to achieve in 2019. Ask Him what he wants for you this year. Don’t worry if New Year’s is already past, take the time to set your direction well. The great thing about this approach is that it doesn’t require 365 consecutive successes to be one. The benefit is in the journey, not the destination.

Getting Started

I would suggest that this process should center around three relationships. Your relationship with yourself, with others, and with God.

First, think about the relationship you want to have with yourself. This is an often overlooked relationship. But it is an important one. Some questions that help are:

  • What do you need?

  • What do you feel God wants for you?

  • Do you need to learn to slow down, or to stop being so critical and accept yourself for who you are?

  • Do you need to love yourself or forgive yourself?

Maybe, you need to be more humble. For me in 2018, I wanted to stop dwelling in the past and dreaming about the future. I wanted to start focusing more on what I could do today. I felt that I was missing out on what God was putting in front of me at the moment because most of the time my mind was off in some other time. So, I decided I wanted to “live presently”.

Next, think about your relationship with others.

  • Do you let the actions of others have too much influence in your life?

  • Do you need to set healthy boundaries?

Maybe you want to be more loving to your friends and family. Perhaps you realize that you want to be more compassionate toward those in need. Living “presently” for me was also about being present to see and hear others more. I felt that I was missing opportunities to build relationships and meet new people because I was not aware enough of the people around me every day. I wasn’t looking deeply at others because I was preoccupied with work, school, and church.

Finally, think about your relationship with God.

I would suggest that this is the most important piece. Because the reality is that God alone is able to facilitate the type of lasting change we really desire in our life’s. For that change to happen we need to be mindful of our relationship to God. Including this relationship in your theme, highlights the importance of Gods role in your life. I believe that the reason my 2018 was a success was that I submitted my goals to my “sovereign” God. The idea of sovereignty was big for me. I believed in God, but in all my experience I had not acknowledged his sovereignty over my life. I honored Him, and he honored me by structuring the events of my year in such a way that we achieved my desired end.

  • How is your relationship with God?

  • Is there some understanding about God that you feel he is trying to reveal to you?

  • Do you need to surrender some aspect of your life to Him?

Maybe you need to commit to the work he is calling you to do.


I am excited for 2019! I believe that God is doing even bigger things this year. He wants to walk through this year with you. He wants to help you set and reach your goals. He wants to use you to disrupt the status quo, to show the world that with Him, anything is possible! What will the theme of your year be? Comment down below!

This article was written by Wes Via. Wes lives in Spokane Valley, WA with his wife Lauren. They are expecting a baby boy very soon. He is currently a graduate student in leadership studies at Gonzaga University, and the host of The Wes Via Podcast which will launch in February of 2019.