As you look ahead at the New Year, people inevitably ask you about your New Year’s resolutions. For many, weight loss, exercise or improving relationships are near the top of the list of responses. Generally, these resolutions reflect aspects of our lives that we are not happy with and the change in the calendar serves to remind us that time is running out. A smaller number of people respond to the prompt by making specific plans to affect the change. An even smaller number stick with the plans long enough to experience the benefit of the change.
Then there is the group who pretend they are above it all by separating themselves from reality. Their response to the question about New Year’s resolutions goes something like, “Oh, I don’t believe in resolutions. They don’t work anyway. Just put your intentions into the universe and you’ll be fine.” Really? No, I mean REALLY? There is a LOT wrong with this mindset.
The first and most obvious problem is that this person assumes no responsibility at all for his or her own actions, or in this case, inaction. Claiming that resolutions don’t work is like letting the battery run flat on your laptop computer and then declaring you don’t believe in batteries because they don’t work. Then, the mystical universe will come to the rescue. That’s like saying if you plug your laptop computer with its flat battery into the internet modem in your house then everything will magically start to work again. You behave as if these things are out of your control with the same level of mindlessness as you might approach a flat battery.
Resolution implies dogged determination; a desire to persevere until a goal is met. A resolution is not something you sign up for and then decide it does not work so you will discontinue the service. Either you have the determination, or you don’t – it is that simple. If you don’t, then you have chosen not to make a specific change, and therefore you have no resolution. That includes floating your good intentions out into the universe and hoping for the best. Where is the perseverance in that?
If you do have the determination, then you will set about to make specific plans and to change your actions and behaviors accordingly. There is no doubt that some change is difficult for a lot of people, which is why perseverance is required to see it through. If you start with a series of small steps that continue over time until the new behavior is learned and it becomes second nature, then you have a greater chance of being successful. Being accountable to a third party can also be helpful. Share your plans with an objective person who can act as your coach through the change process. Check-in with your coach routinely to share your progress and review the parts that challenge you. Sometimes the encouragement from someone else will help to keep your perspective balanced and to keep you motivated.
If you don’t believe in resolutions, then you must have difficulty accomplishing much in your life, as every goal and every milestone worth achieving requires determination and a plan to see it through. If you find yourself in this boat, look in the mirror to find out who is responsible for your wishful thinking and then decide to do something about that. You are the battery that needs to power the change and your family, friends and co-workers are the universe that can encourage and keep you motivated to succeed.