This is the time of the year that most people look back at the past twelve months and think of the things they have accomplished and the things they want to do in the upcoming year.Using Einstein’s definition of insanity about doing the same things and expecting different results, the corollary should be “Do something different and expect different results.” That only makes sense, right?
I don’t know about you, but I am not the best at keeping New Year’s Resolutions. I’m not even the best at making New Year’s Resolutions.
Each morning, I have a couple of web sites I go to. This is my version of reading the morning newspaper, although without the comics or cross-word puzzle. The other morning, one of my go-to sites directed me to read an article on New Year’s Resolutions written by David G. Allan as part of The Wisdom Project. (https://www.cnn.com/2018/12/18/health/micro-resolution-wisdom-project/index.html)
He begins by acknowledging that most people start out with good intentions, but along the way – life happens. “Willpower is in short supply. We loose focus. Things change.” What happens to all of us – and certainly has happened to me.
So David chose to define 12 “micro-resolutions”. They were one-month long, each one being accomplished during one month of the year. There were criteria used in order to choose the resolution for each month. His criteria was based on things he needed to give up or cut back on, or things he was afraid he was dependent upon.
In other words, his resolutions were of the “giving up” type rather than “do more of” type. In his article, David shares 12 months of his resolutions. His reasons for choosing what he did. The challenge of defining what he meant when he choose a month-long restriction. (Does dried fruit count as a “sweet”?) His article gave me quite a bit to think about.
Many of the month-long choices David made I could relate to. Weight related, philosophical and my personal favorite, giving up “stuff that doesn’t spark joy.” Wouldn’t it be nice to really be joyful in life?
I want that in my life. I want to be able to achieve these results. And I could come up with 12 things to either give up or to strive for — and how hard could 30 days be to actually stick to a resolution? (Draw a little smiley face here – we all know that it isn’t that easy!)
However, I found myself arguing a bit with David’s concept. I prefer positive rather than negative reinforcement. I like to DO something, rather than eliminate something else from my life. But even re-working the wording to a positive had me resisting a bit. So I ask myself, am I resisting the method or the concept of resolutions in general? And why?
Because Resolutions are often not kept through a year, I wonder if my resistance to writing any resolution is because I don’t want to fail. Or perhaps I just don’t want to stop doing that particular thing. Or I’m just being stubborn? (It runs in the family.)
Whatever the reason, many years ago, I decided to stop giving things up for Lent and started something positive. I feel New Years’ Resolutions should be the same. Instead of “stop eating sweets” I prefer “change to fresh fruit for dessert.”
The important part of David’s article for me was the concept of a shorter time line. 30 days is much more achievable than an entire year. And mixing it up with a choice of 12 Resolutions: I get to go on to something else in just a few short weeks.
As I have been thinking about both my Bucket List and my 2019 Resolutions, I wanted to accomplish two things. The first was to find a way to do something different than I’ve done in the past. For one thing, if it was different, I should be able to expect different results, right? And sometimes, the sheer act of making the effort creates the outcome.
The second thing I wanted to do was to share this with someone. And the someone was you. Whoever reads this. And you can do anything you want with this information – use it, think about it, laugh at it, ignore it. But I have already accomplished one thing with my Resolutions and Bucket List. Check!
I wish each of you a Happy Holiday Season and hope that you stay safe wherever you are. Take a little time to enjoy your life and this season.
And may next year bring each one of us something very special.