Welcome to 2005! It’s a new year, a new beginning, a fresh start for your dreams.

If you’re like most people, you’ve probably already spent at least some time creating a wish list of things you’d like to see happen in the coming year. Perhaps some of those wishes have already taken the form of goals or resolutions, while others may still be floating around in the dream stage.

Since I am a life coach, you might expect me to be the first to challenge you to solidify your list of dreams into measurable goals for 2005 — you know, things like “lose those last 10 pounds by May 1” or “give five percent more of your income to charity starting now.” While those are certainly worthy goals, I actually think a lot of singles (and people in general) too often set themselves up for failure when it comes to making New Year’s Resolutions like these.

It’s not because the goals are not good ones, and it’s certainly not because we lack the ability to achieve them. Rather, it’s because the goals we create don’t really go deep enough. They don’t really plug us into that rich, vibrantly alive place of inspiration in our hearts. And as a result, we don’t stick with them for the long term.

So this year, I’m encouraging you to try something a little different. Of course, if you’ve already made some resolutions, no worries. Just set them aside for a moment and take a few minutes with me right now … to delve deeper into your heart, and really look at what’s there.

(Now, before we go any further, get up right now and grab your journal — or if you don’t journal, then grab a sheet of paper and a pen. You’re going to need it.)

Most of the time when we think about New Year’s Resolutions, we usually start off asking ourselves something like, “What goals do I want to set for myself this year?” or “What do I want to do differently in 2005?” Those are great questions … but they can have this irritating tendency to take us to what I like to call the “Land of Should.” You know, “Well, I really should get off my duff this year and get into shape” or “I really should be more generous with my time or my money.”

The problem with “shoulds” is that, for all their good intentions, they never really get us to where we want to go. That’s because, when you get right down to it, should-based goals just really aren’t all that inspiring. In fact, the only thing they are really good at is making us feel guilty. And self-imposed guilt never works as a long-term motivation for change. (Notice I said “self-imposed” guilt. I’m not talking about Holy Spirit conviction here; rather, I’m talking about the guilt trips we so frequently book for ourselves.) For change to be permanent, it has to come from a place of inspiration — from that place of positive Spirit-filled vision and desire that lives deep in our hearts.

So here are a few questions to help you dig a little deeper … to get beyond the superficial Land of Should to the place in your heart where your God-given vision and inspiration live. If you don’t have time to respond to these questions now, write them down so you can explore them later:

  • How do you want your life to feel in 2005?
  • What’s the predominant attitude you want to live in this year?
  • What are the top three personal values you really want to honor in the next 12 months? What would honoring those values bring to your life?
  • What’s the big gift you want to give yourself this year? What’s the big gift you want to give to the world around you?

Can you feel how these questions take you beyond the “shoulds” and “oughts,” and carry you someplace deeper — to the place in your soul where your true desires and God’s big vision for your life reside?

Once you’ve taken the time to reflect on and respond to these questions specifically and in rich detail, then you can take the next step by asking yourself: Who do you need to be in order to bring this vision to reality this year? What’s the first step you need to take? What’s the second? And the third?

You may find that the resolutions you create out of this process look nothing like those you started off with. That’s okay — in fact, that’s wonderful! And if your resolutions look pretty much the same, that’s okay too. What matters is that the goals you set for your life in 2005 come from a place of Spirit-inspired vision, inspiration, and deep desire in your heart — and not from the tired old Land of Should. Only then will your resolutions bring about lasting change.


Michael D. Warden is a Professional Co-Active Coach, nationally trained through the Coaches Training Institute in San Rafael, CA, and a member of the International Coach Federation. Michael’s clients’ one common trait is their passion to live a bigger life—to discover what they're here for, and boldly go after that vision with confidence and authenticity. Find more on his life and work at www.michaelwarden.com.