“Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work.” - Peter Drucker
As the new year began many of us made resolutions for ourselves with healthy living intentions. We resolved to make our life better, to be healthier, to be successful, overall to be different from who we’ve been. But now, as the year progresses, we lament that many of our resolutions are not as accomplished as we hoped, and some we haven’t even started (or started yet now ended). What happened? What went wrong? Let me show you how to make a resolution.
As the Drucker quote states, our plans will not be successful, and we won't reach our goal, if they don’t entail hard work. If we make resolutions which are too easy to accomplish we either put off for later, or just don't fulfill us enough to continue with the task. If I may, I would like to expand on Drucker’s quote to include “plans which challenge and inspire us” we are more likely to stick with doing. The idea of hard work is important, but so are tasks which challenge and inspire.
It’s difficult for us to continue with a task or make a resolution if we don’t imagine the end goal, and that goal not only challenges our abilities but also is inspirational. Meaning, in the wider scope of my life, what impact does this goal make on others. True, resolutions tend to be for our healthy living intentions, but if we can imagine a benefit beyond ourselves we are more likely to complete the resolution.
For example, if we make resolutions to eat healthier, and the goal is solely for my health, and even though the resolution may be challenging, and I am doing my best to actively eat healthier, the odds of this new task continuing, solely based on me being healthier, is slim. But, if I realize, and believe, that my new healthy diet will not only benefit myself but also my family and friends, then my motivation to be an example to others will make the odds of me sticking with my resolution higher.
One of the reasons self-help groups are effective is due to a community effort toward a shared goal. The members form a community of encouragement, understanding, action, and altruism. Each of these qualities are important, but it’s the altruistic nature of the members toward each other which encourages each member to continue in their resolve. If we view our resolutions in a similar way, we will be successful so long as we are altruistic.
Mindfulness, which is focused on living in the moment, is a beneficial foundation for creating our resolutions. Mindfulness teaches us that the past only exists in our minds. Reflecting on the past, when done non-judgmentally, allows us the opportunity to learn more about ourselves from our past experiences and choices. We can celebrate those moments when life was wonderful, and we can examine those moments when life didn't go well to decide what we can do different now and in our planning for the future. In this way our past isn't ignored but honored for what it teaches.
Making resolutions is a beneficial way for us to set goals for ourselves based on what we’ve learned from our past. Making these resolutions allows us to live in the moment as we take the time to figure out what it is we resolve to improve. Resolutions don’t need to be made only at the beginning of a new year.
One of the wonderful elements of living in the present moment is that we can “start over” whenever we need to. If my day is not going as planned and I find myself getting frustrated, I can stop, breathe, and start again. I don’t need to wait until the next morning, or even the next year to start over. I can start over any time I feel the need. Therefore, if you find yourself needing more time to work on your resolutions, take the time rather than rushing through a list because of a self-imposed obligation.
Here are my tips for how to make a resolution for healthy living intentions:
- Before creating your resolution list, take the time to reflect on your past. On a piece of paper (or e-device), make two columns, one column for what events went well; another column for those events that did not go well.
- Consider what you have learned from living through the events of both columns. What you feel you need to continue to learn, or to work on, is the beginning of your resolutions list.
- Ensure that any resolution you create is doable and realistic. Yes, we do need to challenge ourselves, but we don’t want to set ourselves up for failure, either.
- For each resolution, write out a “plan of action” listing the resources you will need to accomplish your goal. Make sure that before you start your resolution you have the needed resources necessary to attain your goal.
- Give each resolution a due date, to keep you on track. But, if you find that you are working the resolution yet need more time, be flexible with your schedule.
- And, this is my favorite, be compassionate with yourself! Yes, push yourself and challenge yourself; but if you are honestly doing your best to accomplish your goal, be compassionate during those times which are the toughest.
Make resolutions which will give you a new beginning. Challenge yourself while keeping your expectations reasonable. Then you will see changes in your life which will translate into inner peace.
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