An email I opened yesterday said, “Good morning. If you’ve already broken your New Year’s resolution, don’t despair. You don’t need a holiday to change your life.”
I laughed. Yes, I’ve already broken a couple of my New Year’s Resolutions. You know those famous resolutions: lose weight, exercise more, and live right. To be more literal: lose 50 pounds by February 1st, stop binge-watching Netflix movies, and reduce drinking Mountain Dew Code Red.
Why are these statements easy to dismiss? Because they are only figments in your imagination without the component of resolve.
Resolve, according to Merriam-Webster, means to make clear or understandable and to reach a firm decision about. To move statements from figments of the imagination to actualization, you must make a firm decision that you want to pursue these dreams.
Strava (a social network for exercisers) marks January 19 as “Quitters Day,” the day most people give up on their New Year’s resolution for exercise and continue life as it was in the past year. When considering all resolutions that are made, not just exercise, Inc. Magazine reports that 80% of people only last until the second week of February. This may be optimistic.
Why do we get sidetracked and lose our focus on worthy goals of creating a new me?
- We bite off more than we can chew. We are too ambitious on January 1 then we get overwhelmed trying to keep a litany of resolutions. It is easier to keep one MAJOR resolution. A major goal always has plenty of sub-goals attached to it to keep you busy.
- We lack passion. We make a resolution that is good for us, is proper and should be achieved, but we lack the passion to go for it.
- We lack resolve. In this instance, resolve means we lack self-discipline…not an easy thing to admit. MAJOR goals take 100% commitment.
- We lack clarity. When we think through and write down steps, the mind becomes clear. We see it first in our brain before it becomes reality.
- We are conscientious individuals. This means we get busy with our work assignments and with the duties of sustaining life. Because we are conscientious individuals, we stop pursuing our MAJOR goals to deal with unexpected events or circumstances that impede our progress.
- We miss a day. Because we are conscientious and our work responsibilities often become overwhelming, especially when a deadline looms large ahead, we miss a day or perhaps two of performing the predetermined steps toward our goals. Predictably, the negative self-talk starts: “Why keep trying? I never can stick to my goals. Guess this year won’t be any different.” BOOM! You quit.
Brad Paisley, an American country music singer and songwriter, posted on December 31, 2022 “Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365-page book. Write a good one.”
The truth is, we don’t need New Year’s Resolutions to change our lives. Every morning when the sun rises is a new day, and we can write anything on that day we choose. You can turn mere statements about improving your life into life-changing experiences that create the best you at the end of the year by making crystal clear goal statements of what you want to achieve.
The first step is to evaluate what went well in the previous year and decide what you would like to change or develop more fully, considering your focus, energy, and time constraints. Are there key themes? Can you set desired outcomes?
The next step, and the most time-consuming step, is to create a concrete action plan. Write your goal statements and supporting goal statements in terms that anyone who reads them can understand your vision. Use the SMAAARRTTM acronym: Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Affordable, Realistic, Relevant, and Time Targeted. Make them “resolve to do” statements by breaking the SMAAARRTTM resolutions into daily steps that go on the traditional to-do list. Add monthly checkpoints to assess and ensure progress.
American poet and author Ella Wheeler Wilcox in her poem “Solitude” gives us these lines “Laugh, and the world laughs with you; weep, and you weep alone.” A more powerful quote in my opinion by Wilcox summarizes resolve:
“There is no chance, no destiny, no fate, that can circumvent or hinder or control the firm resolve of a determined soul.”
Print these words out. Paste them on your mirror, on your dashboard, and at the top of your goal-setting sheet, by your computer – anywhere you can see them regularly.
I have two framed pictures on my wall that form my daily resolve. One says:
Determination – What we hope to do with ease, we must first learn to do with diligence.
The second one says:
Perseverance – Effort fully releases its reward after a person refuses to quit.
Use these statements to build resolve and resiliency and as a determined soul who has resolve, step-by-step throughout 2023, a new book will be written and a new you will emerge.