Congratulations if you’ve made it through your goals for the first few days of the New Year. That is no small thing, taking first steps.
Nonetheless, it may be timely to ask: are your resolutions big enough?
Mine haven’t always been. Now I’ve locked in on a standard: A New Year’s Resolution Should Prompt a New Year’s Revolution.
Are Your Resolutions Becoming Familiar?
Have you reviewed your past New Year’s resolutions?
If you’re like me, a number of them are rather…. familiar. Indeed some are a bit too familiar…..
Get more sleep. Eat healthy. Lose weight. Exercise regularly.
Each of these is fine, as far as it goes. And yet… the fact that they’re repeating suggests a certain lack of seriousness.
Are you credibly resolute—or a repeat offender against your better judgment?
A New Year’s resolution shouldn’t keep you company—it should keep you challenged.
Effective Resolutions Link Vision and Daily Life
A compelling New Year resolution links a vision of your future with ongoing changes in your daily life.
Transformative resolutions align instrumental and fundamental goals.
If a resolution is clear enough, succinct, it may become a sort of mantra in your life and work.
Instrumental and Fundamental Goals
Many if not most resolutions are instrumental. They might assist one in accomplishing something of personal significance. But they’re not directly creating value by serving others.
This is certainly true of resolutions to take better care of one’s health. Perfectly fine, but not very ambitious in most circumstances. They lay a foundation to do important things.
What about a goal of becoming, say, a CEO, or president, or a manager in one’s company, or, for that matter, starting a company?
All reasonable, with caveats in the context of New Year resolutions:
—Instrumental goals, even high ones, can take one only so far. Achieving a position, even the most exalted, may present an opportunity to serve more people more effectively. If it’s earned through a series of self-serving actions, or is undertaken with a limited comprehension of service, it’s not worthy. It may be alluring but ultimately empty.
–When one aims for position or other resources granted by others, the outcomes may well be out of one’s control. This bracing fact may elude the person who cannot brook distraction while striving mightily. That one’s effort and the desired result come together may shroud this reality, but does not overcome it.
Worthy of Your Obituary
What sets apart New Year resolutions thoughtfully aimed toward fundamental goals? One test: Would your resolution be worthy of mention in your obituary?
Would the year you took off ten pounds, slept more and drank more water merit a place in a eulogy?….. Probably not… (though the year you lost 50 pounds and saved your life might).
On the other hand, the year you resolved and succeeded in climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro might well meet this test. It could be life-changing, going to the heart of your evolving self-definition.
That kind of challenge can go straight at one’s self-concept. It would comprise a panoply of instrumental goals. Those might include better diet, undertaking physical training, studying extensively, saving money for the travel, and arranging one’s life and work to make it happen.
When we hear that someone has made it up Mt. Kilimanjaro, we’re likely not so much focused on what it means to have made the trek. We’re more likely thinking about all the ancillary changes required.
In the context of someone’s life and work, this is the kind of resolution that can be a revelation, even a revolution. That is, it can mark an abrupt, lasting shift in one’s world.
What About You?
Have you set course toward big resolutions for the New Year?
One approach is to look forward, fill in your vision of what you want your future life to be…. in two, five, ten, twenty years. Then work back. An ambitious resolution would advance you hour-by-hour, day-by-day toward your vision.
Consider the obituary test. Would achieving your resolution mark the upcoming year so distinctly that it could be an item in your obituary? That’s a pretty high standard. It automatically includes markers such as graduations, marriage, children, divorce, children’s education, deaths, and so on.
Why not make a resolution, consistent with your values and goals, that will make the upcoming year memorable—on your own terms?
Are Your New Year Resolutions Big Enough?