Another Post on Resolutions

Posted: January 1, 2013 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , ,


Happy New Year!

It’s gray outside.  Wet and gray.  I’m listening to bluesy jazz, the song at the moment, ironically, “The Rain,” by Melody Gardot.  I’ve set myself the task of wrestling this post on resolution into submission, and maybe in the process cementing my own resolve.  I’m just blue enough myself that it might get done.

We’ve all heard lamentations about failed New Years’ resolutions.  They’re everywhere this time of year, resonant as fading Christmas bells.  If you are one of those “in two weeks I’ll have forgotten my resolution” or “I always fail at my resolutions” people, I’m letting you off the hook with this bit of information:  If you forget that quickly, or think you’ll fail, you haven’t really made a resolution.  You’ve wished on a falling New Year’s ball.

Definition time


1. a resolve or determination: to make a firm resolution to do something.

2. the act of resolving or determining upon an action or course of action, method, procedure, etc.

3. the mental state or quality of being resolved or resolute; firmness of purpose.

The key here is that you really, deeply, sincerely intend to do something.  If you don’t have that drive, don’t worry about it.  You haven’t made a resolution and you have nothing to regret.

But what about those who actually intend to make changes in their life?  We often get “resolution” confused with “goal.”

Goalthe result or achievement toward which effort is directed; aim; end.

Look at those definitions again.  Resolution is the mindset; goal is the intended action or end.

Let’s take a quick look at my current situation.  I have a list of things to do which is growing as I sit in front of this computer screen.  But I have decided that I want to finish this post.  That is my goal.  The thing that keeps me banging away at the keys is my resolve.  My resolution is to reach this goal of a completed blog post on resolution.  Get it?

Maybe I’m overcomplicating it.  Let’s take a simpler tack for a moment.

Goals.  That’s what we are really thinking about when we balk at New Year expectations.  Failing in our efforts to reach those goals is what we fear.  I think we succeed better when we cut ourselves a little slack.  A little, mind you.  We must still be resolute and make an effort.  Here’s what I mean.

Last year I resolved to become healthier.  I set several goals upon which to exercise that resolution.  One of those included a certain amount of weight I wanted to lose.  I didn’t reach that goal, but I did lose some weight, adopted healthier eating habits, and implemented exercise into my weekly routine.  Do I feel like I failed?  No!  By and large, my resolve held, and when it did slip, I just renewed it.  I may not have lost the right number of pounds, but my resolution was to become healthier and I did that.

A friend posted this tidbit on his Facebook this morning:

My new new years resolution:

This year I will gain weight,
do less,
read less,
make less money,
and find less happiness in life…
and with any luck that will fall through in two weeks like all the other resolutions being made:)

He’s a funny guy, but when you think about, he’s right on.  This is how we approach resolutions and goals.  If I fail, then I get the opposite of what I wanted.  That’s not how it works, folks!  Life is a journey, and reaching the planned destination in the planned amount of time rarely happens.  But we usually get there if our resolve holds through the setbacks, or we find ourselves someplace even better.

Speaking of journeys, a couple of years ago a friend shared a goal-setting metaphor with me.  In the old seafaring days, sailors used the stars as the guide to their earthbound destinations.  They focused on the stars, charted their course by relative positions, but they never reached those heavenly bodies.  That was their aim but not their destination, and it still got them where they needed to be.  To succeed in reaching goals and maintaining resolutions, we need to lose our aspirations for perfection and remember what our real desire is.

So my hope for all of us this year is to find something we care enough about to really set our resolution on, to give ourselves space for goal-setting and readjustment along the way, and to find ourselves at the end of the year having moved, by virtue of our resolution, toward the place we ultimately wish to be.

  1. Jan Morrill says:

    “If you forget that quickly, or think you’ll fail, you haven’t really made a resolution. You’ve wished on a falling New Year’s ball.” That says it all, Keli. We need to remember that distinction. Congratulations on completing your first goal of the year!

  2. a serious thought on the subject of resolutions. I think the reason so many people go wrong with resolutions is the fact that they tend to look at new years as a stand alone holiday. i find it is the last of a trilogy. To really get new years right you have to look at Thanksgiving, then Christmas and only when you have done that are you ready to make substantial changes. that way it becomes a life change rather than a feat of shear will power.

    my true resolution this year: be relentlessly optimistic.

    • keliwright says:

      Thanks, Grant. And thanks for letting me share your reverse resolutions. I like your real resolution, too. And I think with your personality it is completely doable.

  3. Hey Keli, I love the sea faring analogy. I set my sights on the stars, but understand that while I can control my navigation, assuming the skies are clear, I have no control over the seas, or wind, or the sea serpents. Still, if I have don’t set my sights on SOMETHING, I’ll simply wander endlessly in a sea of confusion.

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