It’s that time of the year again. The time of year where we make promises to ourselves to save more money, get fit, become more organized, and overall become “better” individuals. The first couple weeks usually go pretty well, but by February we are backsliding, and often frustrated at our failed attempts of self-improvement.

I believe a desire for positive change is good, even healthy, but one thing I’ve learned from New Year’s Resofailures is that our approach and mindset is most often the problem.

When deciding what we want to improve about our lives, we tend to forget that short-term goals are not long-term remedies for change and outward changes do not tackle inward issues.

What if, before simply setting quick-fix goals, we took a step back and asked ourselves what kind of person we want to be in 5 years? What can we sow now that we will want to reap later? What parts of our hearts need to be searched, exposed and/or healed?

Whatever the answer, the following questions should always lead us to ask: what steps do I need to start making in order to make that a possibility?

Answering this question isn’t always easy—it takes some time and a whole lot of soul searching. Below I’ve created a list of simple and applicable steps we can take to begin our journey of answering the question that will eventually lead to making long-term resolutions that last.

1. Spend Some Time Alone
I recently spent some time traveling the globe…alone. Although it was intimidating at times, I learned a lot more about myself than I could’ve ever bargained for. I got to know more about my likes, my dislikes, what makes me laugh, what inspires me, and how to master the art “small talk.” Spending more time alone (without a working phone or internet for the most part) meant spending extra time in prayer, which consequently led to searching my heart more often. As I poured my heart in my thoughts or through a pen, I learned to listen. I learned to be in tune with the stillness. Being alone helped me to search my heart and get real with what needed to be exposed and what needed to be healed. Let 2015 be a year where spending time alone leads to moments of growth.

2. Complain Less and Do More
We are all guilty of the dreadful disease of complain. We see something we don’t like, and make sure people know how we feel—whether it be in our government, in our culture, in our Church, or even in our relationships. Let’s face it: things are broken everywhere we turn. But instead of thinking of ways to help fix it, we naturally choose to complain. Although venting our frustrations can feel good at the moment, they do nothing to help find solutions to the problems in our broken world. Next time we feel like complaining, let’s first think of what we can do to help fix the problem and not hesitate to get to work.

3. Put Your Phone Down
I’m sure we’ve all heard this one plenty of times, but truth is, when we reflect back at the past year, our fondest memory won’t be the status we read about our friend’s new car or our high score on Candy Crush. We can easily miss a whole lot going on around us when our eyes are glued to a screen. We can also miss quality time with people when we settle for a text-based friendship. This new year, let’s be mindful of the people and places around us by soaking in every moment, and spending more quality time with the people we care about.

4. Spend More Time in Deeper Conversations
Many times, without our even realizing it, we can go days without the conversations we have with the people around us going any deeper than surface level chit-chat. There’s nothing wrong with joking around or discussing the latest sports game, but if we’re not intentional about regularly engaging in deeper conversations that stimulate our minds and challenge us intellectually, spiritually and socially, too often these types of conversations can become increasingly rare. Let’s seek to go deeper in 2015—we’ll be surprised at how much we can learn and grow from having intentional conversations.