01062016_AnnieDowns_Finisher

I’m a failure at resolutions.

I’m a quitter. It’s just what I have done historically — when the going gets hard, I get going, to a new location where things aren’t so hard.

But I’m trying to change. I want to be different. I have changed a lot in this area, to be fair, but I still have a long way to go. I’ve been challenged, and moved, by a passage of Scripture from Romans 5.

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. {Romans 5:3-5}

I’m not hoping for/bringing about/trying to find more suffering in my life to practice rejoicing in it. (I’m not crazy.) But I am looking for challenging opportunities to practice perseverance so my character can grow. Because after that? HOPE.

I want to do everything I can to fill 2016 with hope.

Failed resolutions never bring me hope.

So this year, instead of “resolutions,” I’m trying a couple of “New Year’s Experiments.”

Instead of saying, “In 2016, I am going to _________”, I’m trying a new sentence.

“I wonder how my life would be different if, for one year, I ______________?”

. . . read my Bible every day?

. . . walked for 20 minutes first thing in the morning?

. . . quit eating desserts?

. . . volunteered in the nursery at church?

. . . wrote down one thing I am grateful for every night?

. . . watched less TV?

. . . watched more TV? (I dunno. Just thought I’d make it an option.)

. . . called my mom every day?

. . . got 6-8 hours of sleep every night?

. . . whiten your teeth every day?

It’s not about setting a new rule for your life you must follow. It’s about trying something new and seeing if it works out for you. In the grand scheme of things, one year really isn’t that long. I’ve done 35 1/2 and they have flown by. So what would it look like for me to pick one experiement for 2016? One change to make in my life, just to watch and see if it affects who I am, how I work, how I live, and how I grow?

I sat and thought through this last week, and prayed, and wondered. This year, in a way I’ve never experienced before, I want to be different. And I want to be a finisher, not a quitter.

So I’m doing an experiment. No resolutions, no rules, no failure.

Just trying. Experimenting. See what will happen if I don’t give up. As long as I keep trying, I know I’ll be a better Annie for it.

by Annie F. Downs

Share on Twitter:

This year, I want to be different. I want to be a finisher, not a quitter. {Tweet this!}

comments:
share:
  • Bev @ Walking Well With God

    Annie,
    I appreciate your honesty. What you share is not uncommon – that’s why the gyms are full in January and by end of February they are back to the diehards. Every time, however, I have had to persevere through a trial, a change, a challenge, something new and different; it builds my confidence in myself and my confidence and trust in God that He is always faithful to see me through (carry me through when necessary). Like you said, it’s this confidence in persevering that produces hope and I don’t know anyone who couldn’t use a little more hope in their life. Thank you for sharing and all the best to you in your “experiments”!
    Blessings,
    Bev

    • http://anniefdowns.com anniefdowns

      Thanks, Bev! <3

  • http://www.christanperona.com Christan Perona

    We are called to live in community and pursue others-centered lives. Annie, I love how you describe your experiments as “one change to make in my life, just to watch and see if it affects who I am, how I work, how I live, and how I grow.” When we’re impacted, we also impact those who are around us, work with us, do life with us, and struggle and grow with us. I imagine your impact and ministry will expand by faithfully taking one step at a time. Give us an update in a few months! :)

    • http://anniefdowns.com anniefdowns

      Yes! So so true, Christan! Thanks for your thoughts. (Also, I’m going to write about my personal experiment on my blog this week!)

  • Heather

    Thank-you Annie – really appreciated!!!

    • http://anniefdowns.com anniefdowns

      You’re welcome, Heather! <3

  • http://livingcenter.me/ Nancy Wolfe @ livingcenter.me

    What a sweet and gentle way to get stronger.
    So, my experiment this year is one of the “what if I don’t…” ideas. For the past 2 days, I haven’t turned the TV on when I take my shower. Seems like a pretty weak “yey!!!” But for the past 2 days, I have felt free to get my day started as soon as my hair is dry. I haven’t gotten drawn into a story that will suck an entire hour – or two – out of my morning.
    I was pleasantly surprised: that hour seemed much so valuable because I was doing something for good, rather than for nothing.
    And the best thing about experiments is that they have “do-over’s” built right in. It didn’t work this way? Try it again with a different approach… or a piece of chocolate.
    Happy New Year, sisters…xoxox

    • http://www.bethcoulton.com Beth

      I love this! I recently too “gave up” TV watching at night – I work full time and don’t get home til 6 pm, and then if I add an hour or two of TV in the evening, well…it doesn’t leave much time for anything or anyone else. But oh how I loved the entertainment factor of it- I just sit there, after working all day, and get sucked into someone else’s fictional drama (usually Shonda Rhime’s) and I don’t have to do a thing….. Now that i’m moving away from that activity, I am finding I have all kinds of time in the evening!

      • http://livingcenter.me/ Nancy Wolfe @ livingcenter.me

        Thanks, Beth – I was suddenly captivated by your word “recently” … Seems like we put WAY too much emphasis on an arbitrary start date (who decided 1/1 was the best way to begin?). AND, we start everything at once. We need to just hold our horses for a minute and maybe roll these experiments out bit by bit…
        And, ummmm, reading your blog makes me think that we have a few things in common??? chocolate???
        Blessings to you and your crocheting…xoxox

        • http://www.bethcoulton.com Beth

          Thank you Nancy – I love what you said about starting everything at once. That is the hallmark of the downfall of New Year’s resolutions! We take on too much change at once, instead of allowing us the breathing room of a staggered start. Thanks for heading over to my blog- and yes, Chocolate! Always chocolate!

        • Lisa Ann Miles Harden

          I just joined a bible study that challenges me to read a “real” bible daily. With all the technology I find it easy to do it later but I want to be a finisher not a quitter as you mentioned. Well I usually procrastinate. I started today, Saturday. Usually I would say, ok I’ll wait to start on Monday and the next thing you know 2 mondays have passed. Thanks for the challenge to finish strong.

      • http://anniefdowns.com anniefdowns

        That’s amazing, Beth!!

    • Rachel B

      Love this perspective!
      “What if I don’t…” rings very true to my heart. Thanks for sharing!!

      • http://livingcenter.me/ Nancy Wolfe @ livingcenter.me

        Hi, Rachel,
        Jen Hatmaker calls it “off the [balance] beam” in For the Love. We just need to get rid of stuff, don’t we?
        Thanks..xoxox

      • http://anniefdowns.com anniefdowns

        Can’t wait to hear what your experiment is! Keep me updated, Rachel!

    • http://anniefdowns.com anniefdowns

      I love this, Nancy! Such a great idea!

  • http://jordanforty.me Jordan Fortenboher

    Wow, I really like this! I just posted on my blog today about how I’m NOT making resolutions this year, mainly because I just want to avoid failure…but I love this change of language. What if? is a great way to start changing the way I think about the changes I’d like to make in my life. It sounds so much less like a chore and focuses on the benefits of the change. Thanks for sharing this! I’ll definitely be trying it :)

    • http://anniefdowns.com anniefdowns

      Right? ME TOO, Jordan! I just don’t want to quit. But experiments are way easier. :)

      • http://jordanforty.me Jordan Fortenboher

        You made my day responding! :) I think the biggest experiment I want to try is: What if I write 500 words every day?

        • http://anniefdowns.com anniefdowns

          You will write A LOT. Like. Lots. DO IT, GIRL.

  • http://www.bethcoulton.com Beth

    I, like you, made absolutely no resolutions for this new year. No goals, no aspirations, no “2016 is gonna change my life” statements. Zippo. Nada. I didn’t even think about it. I was not intentionally boycotting the mainstream thinking, I was just too busy to pay much attention to setting plans in place that probably would fizzle by the end of the first month. But…what’s been interesting is that as I’ve moved through these early January days, goals and ideas are finding me; through sermons, podcasts, things I’m reading, conversations I’m having. It feels as if God is sending specific goals to me that I didn’t even know to plan for, but as soon as He points them out to me, I recognize in a heartbeat that it’s something I need to work on.

    I love your wording of “experimenting”- that leaves much more room for trial and error and more flexibility than a hard and fast, set-me-up-for-failure resolution. Thanks for sharing this with us!

    • http://anniefdowns.com anniefdowns

      For sure, Beth! Keep me updated on what kind of experiment you do this year!

  • Ann Rowland

    Great post! It’s a much more positive (and hopeful) way of looking at the New Year. Thinking of my own experiments now!

    • http://anniefdowns.com anniefdowns

      Thanks, Ann! <3

  • Lovelle

    I love this! It makes it way more fun when it becomes less of an obligation.

    • http://anniefdowns.com anniefdowns

      Amen, sister.

  • Rachel B

    This year, for the first time ever, I made proclamations, instead of resolutions. I proclaimed that this year, was NOT going to be like last year! And using the Word of God proclaimed God’s best for my life, my marriage, my kids, my money, my home, my extended family, etc…
    I love the “what if ” factor of this blog… What if I really did all the things I wanted to? Better yet, what if I really did ask the things God wanted me to??
    I have hope for this year…it will be “good” different.
    Blessings!!

    • http://anniefdowns.com anniefdowns

      LOVE THIS, Rachel!! Good word. Proclaim it! I’m believing with you!

  • JeanneTakenaka

    I love this idea, Annie. I read on a blog yesterday that (and forgive me if my numbers are slightly off, you’ll get the idea) 45% of Americans make resolutions each year. By the end of March 23% are still following them. By the end of the year? 8% are still living them out.

    I’ve been thinking about the resolutions aspect. It seems like most of the time, when I have set resolutions, I’ve relied on my own strength to fulfill them. The thing is, I get TIRED. And lose my self-discipline. And become discouraged. And quit. So, I quit making resolutions. :) I’ve been focusing on One Word for the last few years, and I’ve learned and grown with God through doing that.

    Your idea sounds wonderful. The pressure is off of you to perform. Instead, you’ll be seeking God and His strength as you learn and grow in the one change you make. Such a great way to approach the new year!

    • http://anniefdowns.com anniefdowns

      What’s your word for this year?

      And yes- the pressure is off! It’s just an experiment! If it fails, WHO CARES? :)

      • JeanneTakenaka

        My word is AUTHENTIC. I think it’s going to be a stretching sort of year. :)

        • http://anniefdowns.com anniefdowns

          Bless you, friend. You picked a legit one. :)

  • Nancy Ruegg

    What a refreshing idea–new year experiments instead of resolutions! One idea on your list of possibilities especially caught my attention: volunteer in the nursery at church. That is NOT a typical resolution or even experiment. How “coincidental” that you should include it. My husband and I have been talking about that very thing. It’s time we stopped considering and started doing, just as an experiment! Thank you, Annie, for the inspiration.

    • http://anniefdowns.com anniefdowns

      Go for it, Nancy! (And actually, that’s one of mine this year too- God has us on the same wavelength. Here’s the holding babies so parents can worship in 2016!) :)

  • http://sunnyand80.org/ Meg Bucher

    Annie, I want you to know that the verse you mentioned from Romans now sits proudly as the first of many to come in my new journal for verses to put to memory. I love your concept of easing up on the end goal and associating it with quitting. After all, once we reach a goal…whether by year’s end or not, aren’t we to push on to the next best version of ourselves? The growing and the learning never stop until we hug Jesus in heaven.
    Happy Wednesday!
    Megs

    • http://anniefdowns.com anniefdowns

      Read it in the message version too, Meg. You’ll love it! And yes- memorize memorize memorize! Excited for your 2016!

  • http://anniefdowns.com anniefdowns

    Love this, Rebecca! I’m actually writing later this week on my blog about my personal experiment and my personal journey with my body as well. Praying this year matters more than we can even imagine.

  • http://www.refineandrestore.com Rachel @ Refine and Restore

    I loved your insights and tips on this Annie! I agree, its about trying something new in your life and seeing if it fits. Specifically this year, I decided to choose goals that really boiled down to whether or not it would add to my life in a better way. Being overwhelmed at times with the busyness of my schedule, I really had to simplify my life into 4 life goal categories and focus primarily on those. Thanks again for your beautiful words.

  • MEJKnowles

    Wonderful post!!

    I’ll have to think & pray about this. I usually use my birthday (6 March) to do a refreshing of my life, so to speak, & I might take this challenge & do it then. I do love it, though! I have no idea what to choose right now, but we shall see. Thanks for sharing it! :)

  • Kristin

    Grace, need this grace. Thank you.

  • Kristin Wetstine Chadwick

    I stopped the whole resolutions thing at the end of 2014. It was a major down year for me, I lost my aunt in February, after her came the younger brother of two friends from high school and college (essentially like my little brother too), my hubby’s grand father, my hubby’s grand mother, a close friend since we were in 7th grade, and a friend’s special needs son (he was only 3 yrs old), and a dear artist friend to cancer. Before the year was over, two close friends had their daughters both diagnosed with Leukemia. When 2014 ended the younger of my friends daughters had been in the PICU since just after Thanksgiving and was fighting for her life after receiving a bone marrow transplant to try and save her little life. So I needed HOPE!!! For the first time I decided to do a “One Little Word,” for 2015, and as you may have guessed I picked the word HOPE!!! I had no idea just how much I was going to need this word. Because before January would end, Jesus would heal my friends precious daughter by taking her home to be with Him in eternity. To say I was devastated would be an understatement. But going all the way to Oregon for the celebration of little Miss. Sophia Teddy Lynn short life was renewing to my soul that I really needed at just the right time!!! God opened doors to stay with a dear friend and her husband while there, they took me to just the right places to eat and spend time them and Christ! God opened doors for me to meet in person, a dear Christian artist friend who we had been friends with online so long we honestly couldn’t remember how long it had been! The miraculous thing that brought me HOPE, was the actual service for Sophia’s celebration of her life. She had only been on this side of heaven for 17 short months, most of it spent in the hospital. But as I was there, I heard from so many how such an amazing little girl impacted so many for Christ!! It was amazing!!! And every time they played the song, “Shake it Off,” by Taylor Swift, we ALL got up and danced with abandon to honor little miss and the valiant time spent with us!! It was Sophia’s favorite song, and her and her little cancer buddies and their mama’s all used to dance to it while they were in the hospital. Wow, talk about a message of HOPE happening before my eyes!!!

    God kept bringing HOPE to me in so many ways. He was giving it to me in scripture, sermons, in things my friends would tell me without even knowing what my WORD was, and in my personal time with God I was seeking scripture on HOPE!!! God also used some pretty amazing songs! I made a HOPE playlist on Spotify, and three of my favorites on that list that I continue to listen to are “Shoulders” by For King and Country, “He Knows” by Jeremy Camp, and “God’s Not Dead (Like A Lion) by the Newsboys. All God was teaching me, showing me and building me up with was going to be needed!!! So much started happening to our family in the summer of 2015. Mostly painful, most so hard, and some felt overwhelming, but Gods hand was in it, as hard as it was to take. 2015 brought with it more grief and loss. Not at all what I was expecting, but it did. And it ended with the loss of another dear friend’s child on Christmas Eve, to brain cancer. This was sweet Jonny Wade…a kid so wise beyond his 8 yrs he got to spend with us on earth. The things this kid said challenged me daily in my own walk with Christ!!! Now he’s still having an impact for a cause that is now near and dear to my heart, for Childhood Cancer Awareness. His twin brother and his parents are traveling to Washington DC this week to be present at President Obama’s state of the Union on Tuesday. Jacky, Jonny’s twin, will be on the floor of this event in Jonny’s place. You see, Jonny wanted to have his life with cancer to help bring about change. Childhood cancers only receive four percent of the funding raised for all cancer research. That’s not even enough to help kids like Sophia and Jonny to have a chance to live a FULL life and grow up!!! Because they were given treatments developed to treat adult cancers and not specific to treat the complexities of childhood cancers, they had complications, and they lost their battles. Jonny wanted that to change. He actually spoke with his local congressman about it while he was still alive, and that’s how the events of this week started to come about. So much to find some HOPE in and even some JOY in the midst of the tough, icky not so pleasant stuff we are all still feeling because Jonny’s life was cut short. And the other hard things that happened in 2015. So this years word for me is JOY!!! In the short time I’ve been studying on JOY, God has already taught me that these two things go together. HOPE is vital in my search for JOY!!! It’s in the verses I’m choosing to mediate on and it’s what is going to help propel Jonny’s family in their quest to make known to many many people the world over to know the message Jonny wants heard. He doesn’t want any other kids to have cancer.

    Sorry my comment was so long. But I felt I needed to share that your post has inspired me to “experiment” with some other things in 2016, that will go hand in hand with my quest for JOY!!! So thanks Annie! I needed that! And I’m goin to share this message with my MOPS group too!!

  • Beth Williams

    Annie,

    Love your open honesty!! I don’t do resolutions! They never work! I love the idea of experiments and “This year, I want to be different. I want to be a finisher, not a quitter.” I will vow to try and read more, pray more fervently, give God the Praise and Thanks He deserves! I know 2016 will be a better year because of the time I’m giving back to God!
    Blessings :)