Every year around this time you hear the word resolution more than probably Feb through November combined. I wrote about resolutions last year claiming that I wouldn’t make a resolution but rather I would set goals for life change. I still stick by that decision, but resolutions are necessarily bad….they just normally fail.
I got an e-mail from Donald Miller (not a personal one of course) with four reasons why resolutions don’t work, but it also included tips to make 2013 different from years past. Here are his reasons and tips with my questions after:
1. Our Resolutions Weren’t Meaningful.
Want to lose weight? Try participating in a walkathon or tennis tournament for charity. Maybe teach an exercise class at a retirement center. You’d be amazed at how changing your narrative context engages your mind, heart and spirit.
What could we strive to change that would be meaningful?
2. We Failed to Make a Plan.
The counterpart to planning is spontaneous order. And most New Years Resolutions rely, sadly, on spontaneous order. We think a goal is going to pull us through, but it won’t. We need to make a plan. Planning involves considering and organizing activities required to achieve a goal. Without a plan, resolutions most certainly fail.
When do we want to achieve our goal by? What steps will help us reach our goal? Who can we unite with to help us reach our goal?
3. We Forgot.
Seriously, once the car broke down and the baby got sick and the boss demanded we get the assignment in early, we simply forgot we made resolutions at all. We didn’t write the resolutions down in a place we could check from time to time. Posting the stories we want to live in a place where we can see them and review them often will keep us on track well into February and beyond.
Where will you post your resolutions and steps?
4. They Just Weren’t For Us.
So what if being a skinny super model or a fifty-year old jock just isn’t for you? We will never be motivated to fulfill somebody else’s expectations. Sadly, many people’s resolutions fail because they’re trying to become something they aren’t. Instead, what if our resolutions were in line with our own stories, our passions, our desires, our deepest wants? Of course, the key is to better understand what our passions actually are.
Why do we want to make these changes? Is it for us for someone/something else?
Tips from Donald Miller
1. Choose a meaningful ambition.
A meaningful experience is usually relational. So a more meaningful resolution might involve other people. Rather than simply deciding to lose weight, you might try running a half marathon as a family, or climbing a mountain with friends, or riding a bike in a special bike ride that benefits a charity. If it’s a financial goal, decide as a family how much of your debt you want to pay off by this time next year, then post it on the fridge. Do great things together if you’d like to create a more meaningful experience.
2. Create a plan to accomplish your ambition.
Creating a plan to follow through on our resolutions requires sitting down with pen and paper and putting real goals on real dates in a real calendar. Anything else is just wishful thinking. But making a plan also involves following through on major steps. This year, to follow through, we need to sign up for that exercise class or create that savings account or have a garage sale. Stating a vague goal is great, but creating “inciting incidents” is what really gets us moving. The term comes from novelists and screenplay writers and it involves an incident in which their characters are forced into the story. So, when we sign up with friends for an exercise class or go down to the bank and open a savings account, we are taking a step that launches our story. Creating an inciting incident may be the most powerful tool we have in following through on our ambitions.
3. Engage conflict.
Most people avoid conflict and its for good reason. Conflict isn’t any fun. But when we realize no good story is told without conflict, we can redeem it in our minds. While it may still sting, we can also see conflict as meaningful. and when conflict is seen as meaningful, its more bearable and even, to some strange extent, meaningful.
4. Share your story with the world.
While it may not be the world, feel free to add your goals for next year here.
Help me brainstorm possible goals for me and you for the upcoming year. I will post my goals next week sometime, but would love some thoughts from you.