I’m starting to think I shouldn’t do resolutions anymore. I haven’t always felt this way. Eons ago, back when I was naïve enough to believe that setting a rule for myself guaranteed compliance, I used to make them every year. And then I realized. I am not one of those who obey the law simply because it is a law.
This is not to say that I am a lawless person. I hardly ever get traffic tickets and I would almost certainly never rob a bank or kill someone. Well, at least not without a very good reason and Liam or Bruce at my side.
But I digress.
I was trying to decide whether or not to make resolutions this year. Not that I lack resolve. I set goals and make decisions every day. I just have difficulty with the annual sort, which is a bit sad because I believe that, were everyone to make resolutions and keep them, our world would quickly approach perfection. I mean really, how many personal resolutions can one make, and keep, without going on to major, world changing stuff?
Having perfected ourselves via personal resolutions within a few years, we could then set about ending world hunger and ensuring peace among nations, curing cancer and ebola, lowering gas prices, eliminating poverty and getting the politicians to work together in something approaching harmony once more.
All right, I admit that last one is a bit farfetched, but we could try.
But that isn’t going to happen. Why? Because most folks are in the same boat I’m in. They may make resolutions with great intentions, but they find it very difficult to keep them. Why?
Because self-improvement requires sacrifice. To “get healthy” one usually has to give up junk food (which we love) and exercise (which we hate. Don’t we?). To finish that project, we have to put in additional time and effort, thereby sacrificing leisure activities. And sacrifice is hard. Very hard.
For one thing, making the sacrifice almost never offers instant gratification. Justifying that last piece of Christmas pie (it will go to waste if I don’t eat it) is easy compared to saying no without immediate reward. (What? You mean no pie DOESN’T equal an instant five pound weight loss? AND I still want the pie?) And if you do resist, the pie just sits there, beckoning seductively. (“Remember how rich and creamy I am…” Reaches for pie, snatches hand back and shoots a guilty look over her should at you. Ahem.)
You have to persevere in your sacrifice if you want to see results. You can’t just say no (or yes) once. You have to keep saying no (or yes) until the goal is reached.
And then you have to keep going, because the pie is always there, calling you. It isn’t enough to reach your goal; you have to persevere even after you have won, so that you don’t lose what you’ve gained. It can be exhausting.
Keeping our resolutions makes our lives better. I might not get that pie, but the healthy changes I make now will help me attend my grand-daughter’s graduation in fifteen years and dance at my fiftieth wedding anniversary.
Sometimes it pays to remember that our
sacrifices resolutions, or the lack thereof, don’t just affect us. Achieving better health ensures that you will be around when those you love need you. Completing projects gives you a sense of accomplishment that may make you happier, and therefore easier to live with. Improving relationships increases the light in the world.
Three pieces of advice for making your resolutions stick this year.
- Set reasonable goals. Saying “I want to lose 125 pounds by Sunday next,” is setting yourself up for failure. Deciding, “I want to lose three pounds a week for the next four weeks,” is challenging, but achievable.
- Don’t mistake a single misstep for failure. When you run out of gas, you don’t junk the car. You gas up and get back on the road. One oops doesn’t mean you’ve failed in your resolution. It is an invitation to pause, learn from your mistake, correct your course, and try again.
- Clearly define the why factor. And don’t limit yourself to one reason. The more benefits you can list, the more likely it is that you will succeed.
So, what are your resolutions for 2015? Are they challenging? Achievable? Why have you chosen these goals and what is it that will keep you striving, even when you are tired and want to give up?
I have a few resolutions to make, but in the meantime, celebrate with me the completion of one of my goals for 2014: The cover reveal of my new novel, Sacrifice, Book Two of the Rephaim Series. Many thanks to Leslee Hare for her beautiful work.
Resolution One for 2015: Sacrifice will be available by the end of the month.