Yes, it’s January – the month in which so many of us make a compelling list of all the things we are going to do in the coming year. You and I look at the weeks ahead and decide this is going to be our year to run the marathon, get out of debt, or finally purge all the junk drawers in our house. Somewhere on that list, if we’re completely honest with ourselves, there will be something about making a difference – about getting the promotion or becoming the entrepreneur or writing the book that will change lives. I’m in several online groups that focus on growing platforms and building brands and finding our unique angle and selling proposition. There’s a ton of great advice in those groups, and the encouragement seems to be endless.

Resolutions are great. In fact, the definitions of the word “resolution are” powerful. Yes, definitions – there are many, and all are good. We should all be in the resolving business.

A firm decision

The act of solving a problem

The process of breaking something down into smaller things

The process of moving from discord to concord

The process of transforming something abstract into another form

The clarity of what we see in an image

But here’s the hard truth about those New Year’s resolutions:

According to studies, 92% of the big “this year is the year” promises we make in January will be forgotten or ignored by February.

Amazon offers nearly 3,000 titles on setting goals, but do a search for “keeping goals” and you’ll see less than 30 publications (and that includes guidebooks for LaCrosse and soccer).

In my 20s, setting goals was all about Peter Drucker’s S.M.A.R.T. plan. Sharing New Year’s resolutions with friends always led to pieces of paper mapping out how those resolutions could become “specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and timely.” S.M.A.R.T.-equipped resolutions became to-do lists on calendars, and my friends and I launched into the year with faith and fire.

And guess what? Most of those resolutions stayed in that notebook. It wasn’t that I was necessarily lazy or lacked discipline. The resolutions may have been S.M.A.R.T, but there was still something missing.

So, if everyone wants to make New Year’s resolutions but no one wants to keep them, maybe it’s time for a new resolution.

I would love to sit down with that 25-year old me now and tell her this:

“There’s no need to make New Year’s resolutions. Instead, this year – YOU be the resolution.”

In studying the leadership traits of women in ministry around the world for a book I’m writing, I’ve learned the key to moving forward, growing, changing, adapting, resolving, restoring, and redeeming. While casting vision and setting goals can provide a roadmap, the women are successful because of one thing:

They are resolute.

If I could sit down with you right now, I’d tell you the same thing I’d tell my 25-year old self:

“This year, be resolute.” 

This year, rather than making a list of things you want to do better or do differently, be resolute in doing the things that matter in your career, relationships, ministry, and life.

What does it mean to be resolute? It’s easy to define the word as “determined,” and yes, there are times when sheer determination is necessary. But being resolute isn’t just about shoulder-to-the-wheel moxie. Grab that notebook of yours – the one you planned to use to write down those resolutions – and instead write down these three statements that define being resolute.

1. This year, I will be STEADFAST.

The women I know who lead well do their best to keep the main thing the main thing. Honor the time you’ve been given personally and professionally, and be faithful to do good with your hands each day. 

Now, write down what being steadfast means to you when it comes to your work, your relationships, your ministry, your life?

2. This year, I will be UNDAUNTED.

One of the greatest qualities I have learned from women leaders around the world is to not allow discouragement to take root. There will be hardships, difficult decisions, and seasons where things are simply mundane. This year, make a commitment to look at every season as an opportunity to learn and grow and find value in the lessons learned. Rally the support of a mentor or two to help you.

Make a quick list of the things you know that can cause discouragement, and then write down three questions that you know will help you look at challenging seasons with encouragement rather than discouragement.

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3. This year, I will LOOSEN. 

Yes, one of the definitions of “resolute” is to loosen. And the women who lead give themselves freedom to explore new ideas, ponder new dreams, and invite new ways of thinking and problem-solving.

Take a moment to write down the things you need to loosen your grip on – maybe it’s a goal you’ve set for yourself or a way of thinking that limits your imagination.