Don’t turn resolutions into pressure…

December 27, 2021

It’s that time of the year when people think about New Year’s Resolutions – things that we think we want to do or accomplish during the coming year. It is a good idea to have goals – things to work towards achieving in the new year. Unfortunately, for many, those resolutions and goals almost immediately are turned into pressure. Pressure to achieve and reasons to beat oneself up over missed deadlines; deadlines which were self-imposed in the first place. Don’t go there.

Rather than set deadlines, perhaps you can establish review points where you assess the progress that has been made on your journey towards your goals. Then you can adjust both your approach to achieving those goals and maybe even to the goals themselves. Taking this approach can help you turn what could have been a session of disappointment or negativity into a positive time to congratulate yourself for any progress that you have made and rethink both your approach and your timetable. There is no need to add pressure to your life over your personal goals. Find ways to add rewards for yourself for what you have accomplished.

A good way to make resolutions without adding pressure is to define your resolution in terms of a journey towards a goal, rather than a hard goal. Instead of a resolution that says, “I will lose 40 pounds by June 1, 2022”, maybe you can resolve that, “I will change my personal eating and exercise habits such that I lose weight by this summer”. The first resolution provides no path to accomplishing that goal, while the second sacrifices a specific amount of weight loss, but, if accomplished, will lead to a much better overall result.

So, think about what you accomplished this year and what you would like to accomplish or things that you want to change in 2022 and put some thought into how to construct a resolution that defines a positive and supportive approach to achieve those things, rather than just setting hard goals that you will likely just turn into more pressure and disappointment in your life. It’s not a contest with winners and losers, it’s an exciting journey. Use your New Year’s Resolutions to define journeys that you want to take towards those goals and then step off onto those journeys.

Have a happy and pressure free New Year!

What’s your resolution for today?

December 31, 2018

A recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog used this quote – “I think in terms of the day’s resolutions, not the year’s.”  (Henry Moore)

Moore’s advice is good on several levels. Many who make big New Year’s Resolutions are soon overwhelmed by the those same statements of good intentions. They tend to be frustrated by focusing upon the seeming enormity of accomplishing the whole resolution, rather than breaking the whole thing down and finding a small portion of itVR2 that can be accomplished immediately – today.  It is much better to see the whole resolution as a set of steps that must be accomplished in order to reach the goal and choosing to take one of those steps today. What’s your resolution for today?

Breaking up the whole into manageable and achievable pieces goes hand-in-hand with time management. There must be time set aside specifically to accomplish the step that you have chosen to take today. It won’t happen just because you identified it as the step that you want to take. Perhaps it won’t happen at all. Maybe you bit off a bigger piece of the overall job than you can handle in a new-years-resolutions-2day. That’s OK, so long as you recognize that fact, stay focused on accomplishing something today and plan the unfinished piece for tomorrow or some future effort. Just accomplish something today that you can mark as “done” in your overall plan to reach your goal.  What’s your resolution for today?

 Sometimes our resolutions are poorly defined or maybe just poorly worded. Resolving to “be a better person on 2019” is certainly too nebulous to be acted upon or measured for success. It might be better to break down that well-meaning, but poorly stated resolution, into specific actions that you wish to take and which can be measured. Perhaps being a better person means interacting with others differently, with less pre-judgement, more acceptance of differences or just more compassion and caring. Maybe it means going out of your way, in a manner that you are aware of, to greet others, to smile and to sincerely ask how they are doing and then to listenreally LISTEN to their response. A truly better person may find things in their response that offer opportunities to help or comfort or support. At the end of the day, you can look back and measure the opportunities that you had as you encountered others and reflect on your behavior during those encounters. Were you demonstrating that you’ve become a better person? Would they agree with that assessment? What’s your resolution for today?

 Perhaps you’ve resolved to become a healthier person by losing weight and exercising more. Obviously, both of those larger goals are measurable. They are also daunting when bicycle-rider-1viewed as a whole. Both are subject to being divided into smaller, daily goals. Each meal or snack during a day becomes a measurable sub-goal. Things like portion sizes and food choices will make a measurable difference over time. Choosing to take the first step towards better fitness by joining a gym is a good first step and one that provides an endless set of next-step opportunities as you actually go to the gym and work out. Maybe the steps before that choice involved doing some research into the options that are available. Make getting started on that research today’s resolution and keep making progress. What’s your resolution for today?

 For some, finding their way back to God may be something that they wish to accomplish this year. There are many reasons that people wander away from God; too many to cover here. A good number of them have nothing to do with faith and everything to do with religion; or at least religion as it was being practiced, when they stopped going to church and wandered into the wilderness, away from God. A good first step in this case is to woman-prayingacknowledge that it’s not that you don’t believe in God; it’s just that you didn’t buy into how religion was being practiced at your last church. Don’t let that disappointment or disagreement stand between you and God. Realize that your relationship with God is personal and not dependent upon your membership in any particular religious group/denomination. The first step is to get back to prayer and your personal relationship with God. Resolve to take the first step back to God today by praying. What’s your resolution for today?

Maybe you resolved to get back to church after being away for a long time. Once you have reestablished that link with God, you can ask for His help to guide you to a group or church that better supports your needs. There are lots and lots of churches with programs and environments today that are more nurturing and supportive than you may remember from your last church. They are often filled with people just like you and provide a setting in which you can celebrate your faith together.  So, go try a few. See which ones feel welcoming and right for you. Maybe you need to break that evaluation down into the things that you think make a difference to you in a church. Do that! Make you list and then start going to try out the churches in your area. Don’t worry about denominations or affiliations, just look for alignment with your beliefs and a welcoming goaland supportive environment.  What’s your resolution for today?

So, amuse yourself with New Year’s Resolutions; but actually get something accomplished by looking at what you can do today.

What’s your resolution for today?

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!

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.

Did your resolutions turn into good habits?

March 6, 2015

“Good habits, once established, are just as hard to break as bad habits.”  (Robert Fuller)

I saw a story on the local news last night that today is the watershed day for New Years Resolutions. Apparently there is evidence that if one can keep doing something for 66 days straight it will have established itself as a habit and today (Mar 6) is day 66 for happy winner2015. So, if you’ve managed to do every day whatever it is that you promised yourself that you would do for 2015; congratulations you’ve formed a new habit (hopefully a good one).

The most often reported New Year’s Resolutions seem to be about losing weight, quitting a bad habit (like smoking) or getting more exercise. Those resolutions are all tough to stick with for most people, so if you did it and stuck with any of them; good for you.  For me I was resolved to be a regular at the gym this year. I just can’t go every day, but I was on the list of the top 15 gym attendees at the Milford Anytime Fitness for the first month and just barely out off the list in February, when I took a week off for vacation. I think I have this down to a habit, but I’ll keep tracking it to make sure.

There was a story in today’s Detroit papers about a new young catcher who is expected
baseball catcherto become the backup catcher on the team this year – James McCann. James was in a pre-season game this week and let a ball that was outside and in the dirt get by him. In a real game during the season a miscue like that can cost a game and James knows it. He was upset with himself for that miss, so the next day he came to practice early and had the pitching coach line up the pitching machine so that it would fire balls at him outside and in the dirt. He had 100 balls loaded up and fired away so that he would get all of that practice to make sure that he stops balls that might get by him. In the process he was forming the good habits that catchers need of getting down and staying in front of the ball. He is hard on himself, but he doesn’t just beat himself up or get moody about it. He uses his mistakes (misses) as motivation to double-down and work harder.

How about you? Did you keep your resolutions? Have they become good habits for you? The alternatives to holding yourself accountable for your resolutions are to lower your standards or give up completely, neither is a good choice. Once you start allowing at the gymyourself to slip and finding ways to rationalize why that’s OK, you’ve stepped way out onto the slippery slope of backsliding and failure. Don’t go there. It’s not a pleasant place to live. Rather, double your resolve, but don’t beat yourself up. The first step in not giving up is to realize that it’s not too late…you can still do this (whatever “this” is). So, don’t bury your resolutions; dust them off; learn from your mistakes or failures so far; and double-down on your resolve to accomplish those goals (and that’s what they really should have been all along – goals).

Create good new habits along the way to reaching your goals. Have a great weekend catching up on those promises to yourself. As for me, I’ll be at the gym working out.