Don’t Make ResolutionsPosted: December 31, 2011
Resolutions. Most of us think about them this time of year, perhaps even make these well-intentioned promises to ourselves, but by the end of January the vast majority are either forgotten or surrendered. Another year passes by and that next December we make those same resolutions again, telling ourselves “this year will be different”, only to delude ourselves yet again. It is a vicious cycle of rising optimism followed by diminishing willpower, self-reproach and deflated esteem.
Nestled among thirteen different definitions in my dictionary is the meaning of the term resolution as it traditionally applies in our culture on this holiday: “a firm decision to do something”. While your resolution may be a firm decision, what exactly backs that decision up? Is it the thin veneer of newly found confidence beneath a core of well-practiced uncertainty or self doubt that you are putting our faith in? Are you simply taking advantage of the socially accepted do-over? Do you really believe this is finally the year that you will lose those pounds, quit that job or habit you loathe or act on that dream you’ve intended on pursuing for the past decade? What is different about today from yesterday that suddenly gives you the magic ability to change?
The fact is this day is very arbitrary. The border between yesterday and today, this year and last, does not truly exist at all. It is nothing more than the turning of a number or a page. Everything that you have available to you today you very likely had yesterday. It is only your perception that has changed. A new calendar seems like a clean slate full of endless possibilities. While this is a very uplifting thought, it alone is not enough to make change happen. You need more than just a firm decision and an arbitrary starting point. You need the initiative to take action and the tenacity to follow it through.
Rather than making your New Year’s resolution a decision to change one facet in your life, make it a process of implementing change itself. For this I suggest embracing an alternate definition of resolution (which I conveniently found right below the previously stated one), stated elegantly as “firmness of mind or purpose”. Instead of looking at your resolutions as individual decisions you have committed to, make a commitment to practice your resolve…your firmness of purpose.
Just what is your purpose? Only you can tell me that. Whether you are aware of it or not, deep down inside you do know. There may be a layer (or for that matter several) of fear, uncertainty and self-doubt clouding your view, but once you move beyond that haze you know what it is. It is the thing you are born to do, that activity that energizes you and rarely feels like work. It is the core pursuit of your heart, and what you would do if you know you could not fail. If you are committed to your purpose all of your decisions should be aligned to it. Everything you do will have you moving toward it in one way or another. This process will not feel like a burden but instead energize you by the very thought of it. It is not something you have to do, but rather a part of your chosen identity!
This year adopt the practice of resolve. Apply it to all of your decisions for change, not just the ones you make today. Be certain every change is aligned with your purpose and then follow through on that process of change. Even the smallest steps in the right direction will get you to where you want to be, so don’t be afraid to start small and perpetuate from there. As we all have heard it is not the destination but rather the journey that makes the trip worthwhile, and it is in the journey where wisdom is gained. Your resolve is the fuel for your journey, so be sure to fill up!!
May your resolve last all year long, every year!
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