Make Changes that Last in the New Year

A clean start on New Year’s Day sounds like a dream. I’m such a goals/resolutions/to-do list junkie and just want to pack life into its neat little, controlled parts. If something can be quantified and organized, I’m all in. Too bad life doesn’t work that way.

The whole resolution thing hasn’t worked for me. I’m really good at getting things done but terrible at making changes in my life. Managing chaos might be my thing. Brandon reminded me just the other night that every year since 2011 we’ve said “this year will be better than last year”—slower, more fun, stable. Guess what. It hasn’t happened yet. Instead, we’ve covered some really rough ground during those “better” years, and 2018 is planning some big obstacles too. We could blame the chaos on work, grad school, or a multitude of other things but really it’s our fault.

If I REALLY want 2018 to be better than 2017 I need to do more than make a couple resolutions.

My resolution list started like this:

  1. Exercise 3 days a week.
  2. Eat better. (not giving up my Phish Food ice cream)
  3. Stop yelling at the kids.
  4. Sleep better.
  5. Spend more time with my friends.
  6. Write 1 new blog post each week.
  7. Be more patient.

Guys, this is the short list. I had to stop myself. Do you have any idea how many times I’ve written these exact same resolutions before? So many times I’m embarrassed to guess the number.

Make Changes That Last In The New Year

Let me guess. You have a couple of these on your list too. Just sharing that list makes me feel like a failure but they’re true. It’s how I see myself and sometimes the truth is awful. I had to stop writing my list because it’s so easy to think about all the ways I disappoint myself and I know no good is going to come from a longer list. Motherhood is endless cycles of good and bad. One minute we’re feeling like a super star and the next we’re spiraling out of control. No matter how much stuff I get done or what I do for our family, it never makes up for feeling like a failure when I think about all those things on my list.

So why haven’t resolutions worked for me before? I was really good at exercising until I had to start driving the kids to school. Why haven’t I made time? A year ago I decided to write more consistently but you’re still not getting a new post every week. Why haven’t I done a better job? I really do believe that I should be able to get everything done in my life. Last January I made my life energy list and quit some really important things to create margin in our life, but I still don’t feel better.

I still snap at my kids, whine about doing anything not on my list, and feel generally annoyed most days. This isn’t who I want to be. Every time a child asks for something and my response is snippy I feel guilt overwhelming me. What kind of mother is so short-tempered with her kids? What would other people think? Are my kids going to hate me?

Resolutions aren’t going to cut if this year. I can’t exercise 3 days a week or send you a new post once each week and magically become a better, more patient mama. Balance requires change. What would happen if I chose to work as hard on myself as I do for work?

I need to find balance in my time and in myself this year. 2018 holds a lot of big things and the opportunity to prove I can work and feel better. Success doesn’t need to come at the cost of peace. This is the year that I change my mindset. 2018 is the year I use my workaholic tendencies for the betterment of myself. A healthier mama makes a healthier family and home. Everything on my list is manageable if I reset my expectations and reactions.

Changing my reactions feels daunting. I don’t even know what it feels like to be peaceful or content. Then tension of disappointment and angst is my normal but I want something different. What if I told you that I’m a grad student in ministry who doesn’t consistently read her bible outside of homework? Obviously working hard and relying on myself hasn’t earned me the peace, joy, and contentment I want.

So I’m starting with the dreaded prayer: Dear Lord, help me be more patient. The only way I know to become the mama I want to be is find my way back to God who promises to guide me, no matter how many times I fail. It’s back to the basics to study and listen for God’s wisdom instead of my own. I’m not necessarily jumping straight into the book of Job but I’m definitely heading to the stories of those who persevered without losing their cool, or at least made amends.

I’m starting back at the beginning of who I want to be and learning from the best. I’m sure there will be plenty of times when I fail again this year but my hope is the number of times I succeed become the ones I remember the most.

What change do you want to make this year?


Motherhood is hard. Just when we think we’re doing it right, something happens to make us doubt ourselves. I hope you find encouragement in every post and realize just how great you are already are. Do you have a friend who needs some encouragement too? Share this post with her and then signup to get new posts by email. 

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