You can’t get by without the BY…

December 30, 2019

It’s that time of year when confetti and resolutions fill the air and both often have the same consistency. Making New Year’s resolutions is an amusing pass-time for most, especially for those who enter into the process with little intent to carry out those resolutions. They make no effort to differentiate between dreams, wishes and resolutions. However, for some this is a time of serious reflection and the setting of new personal goals for the coming year. For them, the dictionary definition of resolve is the base upon which they make their resolutions –


  1. firm determination to do something.

Do you have resolve in your resolutions? Most resolutions that people make are about changing themselves or the way that they interact with others. One might resolve (again) to lose weight or perhaps to finally pursue a job change. Maybe the resolution is to be a better parent or partner. Perhaps the goal is to be more tolerant and open to new ideas and different people. The key there is that these are all goals. Without a commitment to plans and actions they will remain unfulfilled goals until next year’s resolution setting time.  

What turns a wish or dream or goal into a real resolution is the addition of a statement on how you will achieve that goal – the BY part of the resolution.

“I resolve to lose XX Pounds in 2020 , BY…”

The … part can be a list of actions that you commit to take in order to achieve that goal. It may be things like joining a weight loss support group, signing up for a weight loss food program, increasing your daily exercise by joining and using a gym or work-out program. Whatever it is, it should be achievable, measureable and have some time constraint imposed upon getting it done. It cannot use the word “try”. It must use the words “will” and “by”. It is that will, or firm determination, that you are keeping track of with the time constraint.

So, take a look at your resolutions for 2020. To separate the dreams and wishes from the things that you are really committed to get done, see which ones have a BY list. Do those things have a time constraint? Those are the things that you need to focus your resolve on getting done in 2020. Those are your real resolutions.

The next step may be to break your “BY” list down into smaller, more achievable increments, so that you can tackle and achieve the goal little by little. It is important to reinforce your resolve throughout the year by winning the small victories that achieving another step can bring. It is not unusual that larger goals or steps may have to be preceded by smaller, preparatory steps that you didn’t initially think of when  creating your BY list. Those aren’t setbacks; they are opportunities for more small victories on your way to success.

Having a good BY list for your resolutions also helps you stay on track by giving you something to look back upon as well as things to look ahead to doing next. You can find encouragement to continue towards your goals when you can look back and say to yourself, “Look at all that I’ve already achieved.”  

So, take a look at your 2020 Resolutions list before New Year’s eve and separate out those that you really resolve to achieve. For those, if you don’t already have one, create a BY list of steps and the times to achieve those steps to which you are willing to commit.

There is one last step to take, if you are serious about those resolutions. Put the resolution and the BY list on paper and find someone to be your accountability partner. Give that person the paper and ask them meet with you regularly to check on your progress and  to make sure that you are achieving the steps on your BY list. Sometimes we just need that last little push of having to report to someone else on the progress that we are making or not making. It reinforces our resolve.

Have a Happy New Year. May you achieve all of your resolutions BY…

New Year’s resolutions – blowing in the wind…

December 30, 2016

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 let-go-1prejudices 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 new-years-resolutions-1happening 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 new-years-resolutions-2your 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!

OK, it’s a new year; so, now what?

January 1, 2016

“A good beginning makes a good end” – old English proverb

The New Year’s Eve parties are over and we have launched into 2016 (maybe lurched into it for some who partied a bit too hardy). So; now what? Does the start of each new year really mark a whole new beginning for most people; a chance to start over or to change women dreamingtheir lives through the resolutions that that make? Well, maybe it could provide that new beginning; but only if you really want to change.

Every new day is the first day of the rest of your life; so that hackneyed old saying certainly applies. New Year ’s Day will only be different from any other day to the extent that you commit to make it different. If nothing else, New Year’s Day gives many of us a day off to reflect on where we are and where we’d like to go from here. We can spend the day in a hang-over stupor, watching football games and munching on party leftovers or we could spend some time on a serious self-examination of our current state and our goals in life; and give some thought to what we need to do to reach those goals.

I’ve never espoused beating oneself up or wallowing in despair about the past. It is what it was; but the past does not have to dictate your future. One technique that I’ve written about here before is the one used by many successful people in various walks of life and by athletes in particular – visualization. Spend some time visualizing the future that you want, but don’t dwell on that far-out goal for too long or it turns into just a dream. visualizationInstead, start backtracking from that goal and try to “see” the steps that are necessary to get to that goal. Those steps become your intermediate goals; the little things that when all are completed will result in you achieving your goal in life.

Breaking down complex tasks into smaller, more manageable steps is another trick of successful people. It allows them to manage their time and efforts in ways that keep them moving towards their goals. Being able to see and then achieve small steps in the lengthy journey to your ultimate goal also allows you stops along the way to celebrate and rejuvenate. There will be no marching bands and parades to celebrate those little victories. Most times a quiet little fist pump by yourself or a smile on your face may be the only indication that you’ve meet an intermediate goal.

Some have found that having someone act as an accountability partner helps. I wrote about that in this blog a few days ago. Many people find that sharing their goals with explainingsomeone, announcing their plans to them and then asking them to hold you accountable for achieving those plans helps keep them on track. One cannot let one’s self off the hook as easily when you have to report back to an accountability partner why you did not do what you said you were going to do. The other benefit is that it gives you someone to celebrate those small victories with once you have completed a step in the process.

Back to the question at hand; what will you do to make the New Year different from last year? IF your goals remain the same as last year what differences in your approach to achieving them can you take? What did you learn in the past year about yourself and about the process necessary to get to your goals? Can you “see” the steps necessary to achieve those goals? Where are you in the process? What are the next steps? What do you need to do tomorrow, next week or next month to make steady progress towards thoseto do list goals? Do you have the needed prerequisites   – education or training/skills or tools – to be able to achieve those goals. If not; should acquiring those prerequisites be an intermediate goal?

Break it all down and then be honest with yourself about where you are today and what the next few steps need to be. Some may find it helpful to actually chart out what they see as the steps needed to achieve their goals. Drawing things out in sequence and on a timeline may help you see the holes in your current plans and perhaps help you set a more realistic timetable for yourself. Using that technique may also help you identify the prerequisites that you need to plan into the process, which will further impact the timeline. If you break it down into small and achievable steps it makes it easier to set short-term goals for yourself and to see the progress that you are making.

reaching goalSo, here we go into 2016. What have you got planned for this week and next that are steps along the way towards your goals? As you achieve those intermediate steps, don’t forget to take time to congratulate yourself on your progress. Also take time every month to review your plan to see, based upon your new experience, if you need to add some things to your drawing. That’s not a setback. That’s experience turning into wisdom and a wiser you is much more likely to achieve those goals.

Have a great journey towards your goals in 2016 and congratulations on taking the first steps today.

Don’t make resolutions without accountability

December 28, 2015

resolutinsIt’s the time of the year when we all seem to have fun with making New Year’s resolutions. That is the problem; we do it in fun and without real resolve. The list of “resolutions” really is just a wish list. Instead of “I will lose weight in 2016”, we are really just saying, “I wish I could lose weight in 2016.” I will go to the gym, becomes “I wish I got to the gym more.” And on it goes.

The issue starts with the fun nature of the New Year’s resolution process; we just don’t take it all that seriously; however, the real issue is lack of accountability. We don’t hold ourselves accountable and most of us don’t have accountability partners or coaches. Some, of course, have discovered that the key to making resolutions or commitments actually come true is being held accountable for them. They have formed an accountability partnership with someone else or have hired an accountability coach.

I will admit that I have done neither, and thus have no real experience to report; however, I do know a few people who have entered into such arrangements and they swear by them. They meet with their accountability partner once a week and report on the status of the accountabilitycommitments that they shared. Having to account for ones actions or inaction in the face of commitments that were made has the effect of causing one to become more diligent about meeting goals, completing tasks and generally fulfilling resolutions and commitments.

A good accountability partner will asked the second question if you’ve reported that you did not meet a commitment. “Why not?”  Just the fact that someone else remembers what you said that you were going to do and asks you if you did it will help you focus. They will also help you cut through the BS and excuses that you may be using with yourself to excuse your lack of follow through. You will not like having to embarrass yourself explainingtime-after-time in front of them. Over time they will also help you formulate more realistic goals and commitments by helping you see that overcommitting and then under-performing may be at the root of your issues.

So, as you start thinking about the thinks that you’d like to resolve to do in 2016, start by resolving to find an accountability partner or hiring one. Resolutions become just empty promises if there is no accountability. Go ahead and resolve to get to the gym and lose weight; but, have someone to hold your feet to the fire if you don’t follow through. Have a great and accountable 2016.