I’ve been thinking a lot today about resolutions. What does it mean to make one? For that matter, in spite of all the attention paid to resolutions on New Year’s Day, how often do we think consciously about what a resolution actually is? What makes that resounding declaration a resolution, and not just wishful thinking?
Once I really started thinking about this, I came to the conclusion that the difference lies in the character of the stated goal: is it general and vague, or detailed and specific?
Example: I could say (with perfect truth) that it would be nice to travel more in 2013. Is this a resolution? Let’s put it to the test: it’s vague, not detailed, so it’s much more like wishful thinking. But if I said I intend to spend next Christmas in Paris, that’s a resolution— it’s much more specific, and therefore gives me a starting point to focus my motivation to make that trip happen, en fait!
Is the lack of conscious definition one of the possible reasons why we tend to backslide on our resolutions? I think so. No matter how motivated we might feel at the moment of stating our goals, it’s hard to see how we will progress toward fulfilling them if we don’t really know what they are.
This makes me think of those wonderful conversations I’ve had with children (including my own), you know, the ones that start with something like, “Why is there rain?” And no matter how technically accurate your answer, they keep asking, “Why?” Perhaps the process of getting clear about our goals should be like this. Let’s say your goal is to lose weight. Okay, how much weight? 10 pounds. Over what period of time? By June 1. What are you willing to do to achieve that? Join a gym, go out dancing, see a nutritionist.
See what I mean? The more you ask — and answer — your own questions, the clearer you get about how that goal will materialize. Of course, along with greater clarity comes a greater sense of responsibility to follow through— but that’s what you want, right? To actually achieve your goal?
Here’s one of my goals, going from nebulous to clear: I want to write. How much/how often? Every day. Write what? Blog posts, magazine articles, non-fiction books and e-books, screenplays. And from here, I’d get more and more specific, i.e. certain projects/tutorials I have in mind for my Changing Your Clothes and A Musing blogs, more essays here on Lindy Hops!; articles for Threads and Vogue Knitting magazines (I also have specific topic ideas for these), book proposals, again on specific topics, mostly knitting-related; finish the 2 screenplays I’ve already started. Actually, the bottom-line truth about my writing resolution is that I want to write enough (and well enough) to easily and happily support myself with my writing! And just saying that gives me a whole new question-and-answer sequence to explore. Now I have a clearly-defined resolution!
Fun, isn’t it? I think it is. There’s something about this process in itself that makes me believe more strongly that I can achieve my goals— I just have to know what they are first.
On this first day of the first month of 2013, let’s all look forward with hope and optimism to a year that we can look back on, 364 days from now, knowing that the resolutions we make today really were more than just wishful thinking.
Happy New Year, everyone!