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Devotional: A Different Kind of New Year’s Resolution

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New Years Resolution: a Devotional about Using Your Strengths

As the calendar turns from December to January, it is natural to look back at the previous year and look forward to the new one. It’s a time when many make resolutions so we will have more satisfaction in the coming year.

calendar with January 1 circled

Image: Shades of Cool

Yet many New Year’s resolutions set us up for failure. We focus on developing new habits to achieve a desired result that we believe will lead to more satisfaction, whether it is repairing a weakness (don’t eat as much), quitting a habit (don’t smoke) or avoidance (don’t spend as much.) Negativity is one reason why just 8% of people achieve their New Year’s resolutions. Satisfaction? Not so much.

What if you assessed the past year – and invested in the coming year’s changes – using a different rubric altogether?

Use Your Strengths to Determine Next Years Resolutions

Your natural strengths are your habitual patterns of behavior, thoughts, emotions, and communication. They are God-given. Further, your natural strengths typically remain stable over time. If you are a naturally courageous, determined problem-solver, you will likely continue to solve problems in that way throughout your life. If you face risk cautiously and conservatively, you likely won’t change that approach.

Your adaptive strengths, in contrast, are the changes you make in order to be accepted and to succeed in your environment. Your environment can stretch your strengths or stress them, requiring you to use skills that are not part of your natural strengths. Adaptation can be good, for it stretches us. Yet long-term adaptation consumes energy, and can lead to stress and frustration. It is here – in understanding your environment, finding ways to use your natural strengths in that environment, and tweaking your adaptive strengths – that changes will yield the greatest satisfaction.

During your year-end self-evaluation, invest time in understanding how your environment and your strengths line up – how you adapt to make things work and what you can do differently next year to live a fuller, more satisfied life.  This checklist can help.

How Did Your Natural Strengths and Adaptive Strengths Line Up This Year?

  • What adjustments have you made in the last year in order to adapt to your environment?
  • Which adaptations were easy for you?
  • Which adaptations allowed you to grow in positive ways?
  • Which adaptations have been a struggle?
  • What impact have those adjustments had?
  • In what ways has your environment changed in the last year?
  • Is there an element of your environment you can grow to understand more in the coming year?
  • Is there an element of your environment you can – and should – change in the coming year?

As you understand your environment and its expectations, you can stretch your strengths rather than stress them. By using your strengths as God intended – to build the Kingdom – you will experience more satisfaction.

Which is the whole point of making a New Year’s resolution in the first place.

 

Growth PointYour environment can stretch your strengths or stress them.

Scripture

Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them. (Romans 12:6, RSV)

Prayer Points

  • Have you ever considered your strength set as a gift from God? Why or why not?
  • Why does using your strengths bring joy to God?
  • What is one step you can take to use the gift of strengths God has given you?

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Devotional: Understanding Others’ Strengths – Do You Have a Good View?

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