Resolutions for the New Year

A couple of years ago, I wrote an article on New Year’s Resolutions.  It was focused on the steps one needs to take to make good commitments.  After all, that’s what it’s all about.  If I remember correctly, there were 7 steps involved.  I won’t repeat them here, but point you to my other website, where the article is archived .

Today, my thoughts are more on what to resolve for the year…  and how many resolutions to make.

To start off, I want to point you to a humorous newspaper article (published in the Syracuse Post-Standard and written by Jeff Kramer) on the subject that came out on the first of the year. Since that article might not remain available on the web, I want to just give you a sense of what it says.  “Since resolutions rarely work,” it begins, why not try “reverse psychology.”  “Just clear your head and repeat after me:” it continues.  Then it lists 40 or more resolutions such as these:

  • I will gain 35 pounds or more in 2007.
  • I will never push my heart rate above “resting.”
  • I will “go ballistic” each time someone cuts me off in traffic.
  • I will be impatient with anyone who delays me, regardless of their age or infirmity.
  • I will floss erratically, if at all. 
  • I will not “own” my behavior.
  • I will keep talking even when no one is listening.”

What I found interesting is that the obvious wrongness of all these humorous resolutions really hit home with me.  It’s one thing to know that your finances would probably benefit from a budget.  It’s another to hear the trajectory your life is taking when you say, “I will buy crap I don’t need on impulse. I will make no pretense of following a budget.”

I have come to believe that resolutions, made at the new year or any other time, would be more effective if they follow these 3 guidelines:

Less is More – don’t tackle everything at once.  Make it 3 or less. Two would be better.  One biggy would be best.  Imagine how succeeding on one big personal project – one that has been sitting on your list for years — would energize you.

Prioritize Emotionally, by which I mean honor your most valued urges, not your “shoulds.” Follow what will bring zest to your life, not what will make you a “better person.” Personally, I would prefer you do whatever you do zestfully; it makes we feel good just to see you fully alive and will be more likely to move me (and the world) forward in the process.

Plan for Success!  Assuming that you can do this by yourself when you haven’t been able to do it in the past is a ticket to the Land of Disappointment. Get help. Pay for it if you have to. And don’t do it alone. Form alliances. You got into this situation by yourself, but you don’t have to get out of it that way.

And a fourth guideline:

Celebrate Now: You are a fully alive human being.  You are already fully whole.  And… you have made plans to change, improve, give more, excel, or take another slice out of life.  Isn’t that worth doing?

Do you have a commitment you’d like to share?  Let me know… by email, or register and enter a comment.  And please feel free to pass this article along to someone who you think would appreciate reading it. 

May this year bring you many wonderfully fulfilling experiences.

-Steve Reiter
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  1. Mitch

    I can only hope that the type of resolutions I posted on my own blog can fit in with what you've said above.  At least I'm off to a good start on them.