Tuesday, January 3, 2012

My Problem with Resolutions

I love the beginning of the new year. I love how people treat each other with pleasant civility. We come together and believe the best possible scenarios for the future. A clock strikes 12. We sing a song. We share the moment of endless possibilities.inevitably we think about the past and plan for the future by setting plans to be better. We fall asleep with wonder and awe of tomorrow …

Then we wake up. We look over the list of what we want to accomplish and start crossing off the ones that don’t make sense. Who wants to run a marathon? Who wants to lose weight? Who wants to start saving for the future? The realization of the moment happens and we start to give up on ourselves.

Or even worse … we try and don’t immediately succeed. We buy the new running shoes. We invest in a gym membership. We open a savings account. The weeks go by and all that momentum generated in preparing for something great slows down. We attain the plateau of regularity. Or worse we decline slightly because we think of ourselves as semi-failures.

This is my hardship. This is the path I trod. This is my destiny. With one exception …

There has been much written about the idea of goal setting. Plans of attack that people can use to accomplish their dreams. Some have clever acronyms while others just layout a simple 5 point system. The whole idea is to allow you to internalize a pattern that makes the goal meaningful to you: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely, Goals, Opportunities, Accountability, Limitations, Synergy. For some people they need to share their goals with friends to keep them motivated, while others tell no one so they don’t get demotivated. But ultimately there is a flaw within the simple design of the resolution/goal, and it lies with the underlying desire. In one word … motivation.

What happens with most people, and a main reason why we break our resolutions, is the lack of understanding of why we set the goal in the first place. Why do you want to run the marathon? Why do you want to go to the gym? Why do you want to save for the future? If the underlying motivation is whimsical, for instance “because I heard it was a good idea”, then you most likely will result in giving up on yourself. The truth is something else will take importance over the whimsical. Time may get in the way of training. Fast food may get in the way of the gym. The immediate expenditure may get in the way of savings.

However, if you were to ground your desires in a deeper virtue you will hold on to your goals longer. Removing the whimsy to give space to the poignant. And there are several virtues to choose from: Chastity, Temperance, Charity, Diligence, Patience, Kindness, Humility, etc. I want to run the marathon to prove to myself that I won’t give up (diligence).I want to go to the gym to get better in shape so I am around for my children and family (charity). I am saving now so the future will not hold financial difficulty for my loved ones (prudence). When you think about the action of the goal now there is something else there then just “you.” Do you want to give up on your diligence, family or future?

As you venture down the new year keep in mind your “why” you want to accomplish something. It is this deeper meaning behind the goal that will ultimately drive you to success. Sure the mantras, acronyms and steps are fine, but if you can internalize a deeper meaning to what you want to accomplish then the achievement is yours. I know you can be excellent in your resolution keeping if only you discover a powerful motivation. Oh … and get yourself a copy of the Theme from Rocky. It’s a huge help as well.

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