It’s that time of the year when our thoughts turn to the changes and renewals that we hope for in the coming year. We codify our hopes in New Year’s resolutions, many of which don’t make it past the first week before they are broken or forgotten. But, why is that?
“New Year’s resolutions often fail because toxic emotions and experiences from our past can sabotage us or keep us stuck with the same old thoughts, patterns and regrets.” – Debbie Ford
Perhaps it is our inability to let go of the past, to purge our minds of the poison of prejudices or left over anger or regret that causes us to fail in our resolutions to do better in the future. Look closely at that picture to find help with letting go. Or perhaps it is the focus and content of the resolutions themselves that doom us to failure. Maybe we are too self-centered in the topics of our resolutions and maybe the baggage that we drag with us from the past does get in the way. Or, maybe we make resolutions that are too vague or too grandiose. What would be so bad about making a resolution like this one –
“Let our New Year’s resolution be this: we will be there for one another as fellow members of humanity, in the finest sense of the word.” – Goran Persson
I’ve posted here in the past about being there for others. See Don’t try to understand and don’t judge, just be there… and Be there for someone today… or Just be there…
A common theme through all of those posts is the important role that you can play in the lives of others by being there for them to listen, to hug, to reassure, to forgive (if necessary) and to accept them.
We could spend some time discussing what Persson meant by “in the finest sense of the word”; however I think you probably get that and get that it isn’t about something happening to benefit you, but rather doing things that will benefit others. You would benefit from that too; I think. Maybe time spent worrying about others will take our minds off worrying about ourselves. Maybe “doing the right things” in business and in life will cause the right things to happen for you. Resolve to be there for others.
A second observation that I have about many New Year’s resolutions is that they don’t contain any commitment to accountability. Maybe that’s why we make many of them in private and then don’t share them with others. David Brin said – “When it comes to privacy and accountability, people always demand the former for themselves and the latter for everyone else.” Resolutions made in private carry no accountability. We might be ashamed that we have to resolve to lose weight or quit smoking or drinking or quite some other bad habit or behavior; but unless we state it in public and have others to hold us accountable it is all too easy to let the resolutions slip away, at first into tomorrow and then into never. If you are serious about making a resolution to change some aspect of your life, get yourself an accountability partner for that resolution; someone that share the resolution with and then with whom you can meet regularly and share a progress report about that resolution.
My final bit of New Year’s resolutions advice is to shorten the time frame of your resolutions dramatically. Don’t make grand resolutions that are supposed to play out over the entire year. Take Henry Moore’s advice – “I think in terms of the day’s resolutions, not the years’. If you start out each day with resolutions for that day perhaps the “resolve” to actually accomplish them will be fresh enough and strong enough to actually be successful. Maybe instead of resolving that you will stop smoking this year, you could start by resolving that you will quit smoking today. If you do that today and tomorrow and the next day, before you know it the grander resolution will also be accomplished. After all it’s just for today, right?
I’m not personally a fan of New Year’s resolutions, but for many the New Year provides an artificial point in time from which to try to move in new directions. More power to you if that is the case for you. I hope that you find some value in the advice that I tried to give above and good luck to you with your resolutions. Have a Happy New Year!