Most often we think of resolutions as declaration to stop doing some bad habit and after few months of trying to stop that habit we go right back to doing what we have been doing for many years. It’s not long before we just resolve to not make New Year Resolutions and that ends up being the only one we keep. I’m going to assume you haven’t totally given up on making resolutions if you still reading this paragraph and I’m going to show you how I make resolutions and keep them.
Take a quick look at the definition of ‘resolution’ and see that maybe making a new year resolution isn’t quite the way we have always understood it. The first definition fits our common understanding best. A firm decision to do or not to do something. In others words, set a goal. Setting a goal is just a decision. Goals are typically something we set out to do, not something we set out to stop doing. Setting goals means living life with intention.
The second definition defines a quality of being. I want to be a person who sets goals and achieves these goals. I want to live my life with intention and determination. Doing so helps me find my purpose in life. Many of us think of purpose as some specific destiny given to us like curing cancer, ending world hunger, being the hot dog eating champion of the world or whatever grand thing we can think of. If you are reading this blog I can already think of one of the greatest purposes in life that we share – being a father.
And third definition from this quick Google search relates to what we really desire. I have discovered a problem and I want to solve it. We started with a decision to do something and then we followed through with action to resolve the problem. Men by their very nature are problem solvers. Problem solving is so great a desire that we try to solve problems even when there is nothing to solve! Ask your partner if you don’t know what I’m talking about.
I make resolutions almost daily. I’m somewhere in that second definition trying to make resoluteness a quality of my being. It’s like the old GPS devices that used to try to get us back on track when we missed a turn – recalculating… recalculating… I get off track sometimes and I need that GPS device to let me know. Here are two ways you can make that GPS device a part of your resolutions:
- Write down your goals on a piece of paper and put that piece of paper in your wallet. Revisit it from time to time and assess what you have done to achieve that goal. Or just rediscover it when you’re trying to find that receipt you need but misplaced. Add that goal to the calendar on your phone and set it to remind you about your goal every couple of weeks or months.
- Tell your friends, make a declaration on social media and to your best friends so that you can be held accountable. This works mostly because you want to look good to other people, but it also works because you might find other people who have already set the same goals and achieved them. Ask them for pointers. How did they do it?
Check out the Hidden Brain podcast on making and breaking habits:
One last thought about resolutions. Ditch the idea that you either succeed or fail. If you set out to lose 40 pounds and only lose 20 you still lost 20! If you set out to save $10K this year and you only save $5K you still saved more than ZERO!! Whatever your goal is, getting closer to it is better than getting further from it. Success only happens when you never give up.
Make a big goal and then set little goals to get you there. Elon Musk wants to colonize Mars. If he revolutionizes space travel in the process but doesn’t colonize Mars do you think he will be seen as a failure? If we start off thinking we can’t achieve our goals, even knowing that we can’t achieve our goals, then we won’t even try.
Really try to do something amazing this year. If you are honest in your efforts there is a good chance you will be better off for it. Your success may not be what you expected when started, but I bet you’ll be better off than when you started.
What we need are two lists. On the left side: This is what matters to me. On the right side: This is how I spend my time. In the middle, one resolution: to make the right side align with the left.-Ellen Goodman