Resolve to Re-Solve

Resolve to Re-Solve

Welcome to 2018! Has it been everything you expected?

This past year was such a tough one in so many different ways, and I have seen lots of individuals expressing that they have high hopes for this one to be a whole lot better. The problem is that hope alone is usually not enough. So, this month, my question for us – you and me – what are we going to solve in our lives in order to make 2018 fantastic?

New Year’s resolutions – do you make them? About half of us do, though, according to “experts”, fewer than 10% actually keep them. That is probably why many have a negative view of them. If you have followed anything I have written, however, you may be surprised to learn that I think there is value in anything that provides an opportunity for introspection.

And there is the key: how do we decide to make or not make resolutions.

There is something intrinsic in human nature to seek out opportunities that allow us to start anew. Four thousand years ago, the ancient Babylonians were making resolutions at the start of their new year’s celebrations that involved promising to repay debts and return borrowed items. It’s likely that they were not alone in this practice, and that across the globe, humans have been using ceremony and ritual to make commitments to better themselves.

Most years, I have made some type of resolution; some much more half-hearted than others. This year’s came about by accident as I was cleaning out a desk drawer and found an old birthday calendar. It reminded me of a practice I used to have of mailing birthday cards to friends and family members. I think there is something nice about getting a real card in the mail not matter what your age. (Credit goes to a friend, who for years has been so good about doing this and was my inspiration.)

Somehow, with a move or job change, I got out of the habit and regret it, so I promised myself I would get back into the practice this year. And, yep, you guessed it! Only a few days in, I was already several birthdays behind, and not a single card had been purchased.

Then it hit me: while the cards are a nice gesture, the real issue here was not about them, but how I use my time for something, that while not critical to my daily life, I simply enjoyed doing. Unfortunately for me, and my guess is for others as well, it is really easy to slip into a “I’m too busy” pattern that lets things that are meaningful to us – big and small – slip.

One of Merriam-Webster’s definition for a resolution is “the act or process of resolving”. Re-solving. In other words, it’s the process of solving something again (and maybe again, and again).

A big them in my work in my workshops is helping others to identify where they are doing things out of obligation that is defined by others versus aligning their values-based priorities. Not only does this limit our self-expression, these imposed definitions can dictate our actions or lack of actions in ways that are not always fulfilling.

If we continue to live this way, chances are we are going to find ourselves in the position of trying to re-solve the same old issues year after year. “Too busy” is a notion that dominates our society, but have you ever allowed yourself the mental and physical space to examine what really constitutes “busy” and is it aligning with your priorities?

Chatting with a friend recently about this topic, he shared that rather than a yearly promise, he is making monthly commitments, focusing on one thing he knows is actionable and achievable. I shared that I love that idea, because in addition to increasing his chance of success – of his approach is proactive.

Being reactionary can also contribute towards our lack of resolution. Have you ever gotten on the scale and then resolved to lose weight? Most of us have. But, have you ever gotten on the scale and said, I deserve to be as healthy as possible?

The difference here is subtle. However, I believe that by shifting the energy from doing something based on negative feelings towards an approach that focuses on our priorities and values can make all the difference. It could help us break the cycle of trying to re-solve the same issue over and over again once and for all.

Rather than focusing on what I haven’t done (send those birthday cards), I am focused on how each day, week and month I can make a real commitment to myself to allot time to do something purely because doing so makes me happy.

Here’s your challenge: find the thing or things you want to re-solve in your life. How do you do that? Take some time in the next few days — real quiet time, no TV, phone, email – and identify some places in your life where you deserve to be happier and create some small actionable steps. If you want some help identifying areas in your life where you may want to focus your energy in the new year, email me here for a free ‘Happiness Wheel’ exercise.”

Good luck with the process. And, in case anyone is still reading this, in an effort to help me keep my new year’s resolution, I will send a real store-bought snail mail birthday card to the first ten people to ping me with their birthdays and mailing addresses. It would make me happy.

May the new year bring you an abundance of health and happiness and — if you seek it, resolution!