We’re three weeks into 2017 and so much has happened already, in my life and around the world. The hoopla of New Year’s Eve seems like a distant memory and I’m wondering quite seriously if it was worth all the parties, fireworks, prayers and solemn resolutions.
Ah, yes, the resolutions. Remember those? The ones that you were going to stick to; the ones that would change your life for ever. You were going to be slimmer, fitter, healthier, wealthier, kinder, more spiritual and more successful; and somehow, you were going to be happier. So, how’s it going? Are you still exercising regularly, sticking to your diet, working on that business plan or planting those seeds that will bear fruit eventually? For your sake, I hope you’ve had the discipline and fortitude to keep going on your chosen path.
However, for many people, this is a ritual that plays out annually in a familiar cycle of: make resolutions – get a great start – struggle to continue – give up – feel guilty – restart – struggle some more – meet obstacles that become excuses – slip into old habits – feel year-end regret – make more resolutions. Other people seem to be able to make similar resolutions, follow them through, surmount the challenges and just keep going until they succeed. What makes the difference between both camps – is it talent, privilege or just plain luck?
With the end of 2016 fast approaching, I decided that I was going to ignore the new year and forego parties, cross-over church services, the setting of resolutions and anything else that would make it into such a special occasion. Instead, I thought about all that had happened throughout the year, what I had learned and how I could apply the lessons. Then, I considered any uncompleted plans or projects, and did something very simple – I got to work. By December 31st, I had written a couple of chapters for my new book, completed a proposal for a new business and presented the idea to potential partners.
On New Year’s Day, I went for a 4km run, had fresh fruits for breakfast, ate a healthy lunch, and simply continued working on my projects. In other words, it was business as usual. I didn’t feel the need to change very much about my life, in terms of habits, because I’m already doing the things that will lead to the change I really want – an improvement in my outcomes. My life is a work in progress and I’m enjoying the work.
Make no mistake – 2016 was a tough year in many ways and sometimes it was a real struggle. But, it was also full of opportunity and fulfilled promise. I published my first book, moved to a new city and began working with a media company that is changing the face of television and film in Africa. There was no shortage of people who were kind, patient, encouraging and inspirational. Tough times are just temporary circumstances and they are inevitable; how long they last is up to you.
So, here’s my take on New Year resolutions:
- Only commit to goals that can be achieved through lifelong habits – there are no quick-fixes for worthwhile changes
- Write them down and post them in a visible place – your bathroom mirror, work desk or home screen on your phone
- Find a compelling reason WHY you have to achieve your goal – the pleasure if you do and the pain if you don’t
- Share your aspirations with a supportive friend, relative or spouse – ask them to hold you accountable
- If you can persevere for three months, any regular practice becomes a habit – schedule it
- Have fun. Find healthy foods you like, exercise by playing games you enjoy and do work you find fulfilling
- Don’t wait until New Year’s Eve – life never stops and no magic happens when the calendar changes
I would love to hear from you, to find out how you deal with this aspect of your life. Share what you can and we’ll compare notes in 12 months!
“I made no resolutions for the New Year. The habit of making plans, of criticizing, sanctioning and molding my life, is too much of a daily event for me.” Anaïs Nin, French-Cuban Author
10 thoughts on “Are you resolved?”
Thanks Michael for this. For me your thoughts were spot on. I never made any new 2017 resolutions for myself either. However, I asked myself a few questions, on why I failed to complete a number of projects scheduled for 2016. I looked outward at my physical efforts and repeatedly asked the question, ‘ where did I go wrong’? Why couldn’t I get the ‘support’ I required to successfully deliver on the projects I desired ? The outward man gave many reasons ….a no of them, had to do with ‘resolve, financial discipline and distractions’ etc . Then I turned to the ‘Inner man of the Spirit’ and asked the same question….after some days of meditation….I got the gentle yet precise response…..it kept refreshing itself daily in my thoughts…. and while in service today…I heard his calm prodding…saying to me… ‘Seek me first, put my work FIRST, and everything else, every other plan shall be added…’made possible’ unto you. Support my work first…put to action, any work that expands ‘my love’ over ‘everything else’, never relent, but only put my work first…thus saith the inner man.
So here I am with a rejuvenated me…putting the most significant thing first as I move forward in 2017. Will there be challenges…yes there will be, will there be distractions…yes they will be…however I will be consoled that the first & most significant thing is being put FIRST where it belongs. Other desires & plans & resolutions will be achieved I believe, if I put them second to No.1. All I can now do is ‘act’ and ‘wait’…with faith.
Beautifully said, Charlz. Sometimes, there is an unspoken priority that we fail to address and it may affect our other plans. At other times, we reach our goals but lack the joy and satisfaction because we have neglected family, health or spiritual growth. I hope and pray that nothing hinders you this time. Blessings.
Hi Michael, I try to reply through WordPress but for some reason the laptop keeps shutting down soI gave up. I make no resolutions. I rue the unfinished business but look forward to making new attempts as thenew year begins. Above all I thank mi God for the past and pray his blessings on us for the future. so I do the same for you. Love and blessings to you and your loved ones for 2017. May you realizethose dreams that mean the most to you. Best regards, mi son Clover (Batts)
Thanks Clover. I’ll let you know how I do. Your encouragement is always a source of inspiration to me. Your responses mean more than you can imagine. Hope to see you later in the year. xx
Hi Michael. You couldn’t have said this better and Anaïs Nin just summarises it perfectly. For me, each new day presents an opportunity to improve ourselves and achieve our goals. It was interesting to learn that it takes 3 months to form a habit. Thanks for the helpful tips. Cheers.
Thanks a lot. Hope 2017 got off to a good start for you! Yep, forming good habits are hard but not as hard as we think. Cheers!
I made a resolution not to make any resolutions this year. For years I used the new year as an excuse not to be a better person – “I’ll just be bad and change when the new year comes.”
However, I do monthly and quarterly reviews to keep me in check if I am deviating from those year-round goals. Thanks to a conversation I had with Michael in January 2012. I am sure he has forgotten :).
If you love yourself you will make those sincere changes. We make these changes because we want to be successful and happy. What hurts more – the pain it takes to achieve great success or the pain associated with loss of pride due to lack of success? If you want to be successful and happy you know which pain to choose and you know you don’t have to wait for a new year.
Well said, Akan. Continuous improvement is the most certain road to success over the long term. We’ve had so many conversations over the years that I have forgotten that one! However, I’m glad that something I said five years ago is still having a positive effect on you today. This makes me reflect on the opposite effect that bosses and parents have on young people when they say cruel or careless things that damage confidence and self-esteem. Hope to see you soon!
this is a beautiful write up and I won’t feel fulfilled enough except I jump in on this one.
To me, resolutions has always been one of the best ways to not have the best out of a year, as well as one of the ways to actually not do anything with those things that you have listed out. For one, most new year resolution list are not borne out of any real sober reflection, but more out of an excitement that usually fades one or two weeks into the new year. Human beings don’t really achieve much with excitement, and the whole new year resolution thingy is just another example. Also, the long term nature of this goals really make it look like it is far into the future, and while we are thinking our deadline is still months away from being achieved, the time continues ticking. I am more of a know what you want to achieve, and then live every day getting closer to that goal. It is nice to know that we do share the same beautiful opinion on things. check out my blog some time too, most likely you would become a regular visitor. Strength to achieve
I’m glad you enjoyed the piece. Resolutions can be useful if you have the framework to support them. Most people are not resolved but merely hopeful – I’m glad you’re not one of them. I’ll check out your blog.
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