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Happy New Year! There’s something about having a new year, a fresh start, a blank page on which to write.

Many of us take the opportunity to make New Year’s resolutions. The principle of setting goals and working to achieve them is a correct principle. Nevertheless, some of us make fewer New Year’s resolutions after years of failure to accomplish them.

National Speakers Association founder Cavett Robert has said, “Character is the ability to carry out a good resolution long after the excitement of the moment has passed.” Most of us have felt that drop-off of enthusiasm at some time after setting a goal. Our success then depends on pressing forward, even without enthusiasm.

Some kinds of goals are great for achieving some kinds of change. If we want to lose weight, we can change our behavior by eating less or differently and by exercising more. If we want to expand our vocabulary, we can read more or different books. These kinds of goals may work for some areas of your life that you would like to improve.

There are some things that do not lend themselves to that sort of goal. What if you want to be kinder or gentler? We can control our behavior to some extent. But to change deeply, our heart has to change. That is a difficult thing for us to do through discipline and force of will. This change of heart can come through Jesus Christ.

At Christmas we celebrated the birth of Jesus Christ. He was the first and greatest Christmas gift. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16 KJV)

The birth of Jesus Christ is significant because He was sent to be our savior and redeemer. He fulfilled that role at the end of His life with His atonement, His suffering in Gethsemane and His death on Calvary. There He paid for the sins of all mankind. That is the great gift He offers to each of us, but it is not an unconditional gift.

When Peter and the other apostles preached, they were asked, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 2:37-38 KJV)

To repent is to change, or to try to change. When that is coupled with faith in Jesus Christ and evidenced by baptism in His name, we can receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. And under the influence of the Holy Ghost, our hearts can be changed.

The gift of the Holy Ghost comes because of the atonement of Jesus Christ. Though we still need to make efforts, and we still will fall short of the person we’d like to be, we can see progress and change over time—a deep change.

In the Gospel of Jesus Christ, every day can be like a New Year, a new page, an opportunity for a fresh start. Repentance can be a daily activity. So stick with your New Year’s resolutions and come unto Christ to experience a change of heart. Through Jesus Christ and under the influence of the Holy Ghost, we can change. More importantly we can be changed. We may not be able to change the entire world, but we can change personally. And when enough of us are changed for the better, the world will be changed for the better, too.

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Dennis is a member of the Carlisle Ward congregation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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