On New Year’s Resolutions

New year. Fresh start. Resolutions abound. Endless possibilities. All to begin on the first of January. And surely to end before the close of the month. Why are resolutions difficult to keep? More importantly, why do so many wait such a long period of time to better their lives? Hopefully, reflecting upon the questions posed will yield a healthy discussion on the nature of resolutions as well as insight into how to best set resolutions for oneself.

The Difficulty of Keeping a Resolution

Waking up at 6 A.M. to stumble out of bed and go for an hour-long run. Squeezing breakfast in between a cold shower and a traffic-heavy drive to work. Teaching kindergartners addition while doing some math of my own to figure out rent payment. Writing for hours on end to publish an article to an invisible audience. Scarf down some leftover pasta, drink a chilled beer, sneak that extra oatmeal raisin cookie, brush teeth (don’t forget to floss!) and crash. Now repeat.

Life is busy. An enjoyable busy full of enjoyably busy moments. Creating time and finding energy to accomplish resolutions in between these busy moments often is challenging. This challenge is where most resolutions unravel into a general compliance with the norm of life. And the point at which a resolution is ironically made to make next New Year’s resolutions truly stick. How can the difficulty of keeping a resolution be overcome ensuring that the now, not next year, will yield results?

Take a deep breath. Clear the clutter from your mind and travel back to the origin of your resolution. Remember that spry smile that crossed your face when the first fleeting images of your goal appeared in your brilliant head? Good. Now, recall how that smile instantly deflated into a frown accompanied by a furrowed brow when obstacles on the way to your goal became apparent? Better. Switch things up and jump forward in time. Visualize successfully keeping your resolution. Take notice of the arrangement of muscles on your face. A wide smile reflective of accomplishing your goal, perhaps? Best. These manifestations of inner emotions guide or dissuade individuals from completing their resolutions. Two are positive and one is negative. Focus on the two positive. For in them one can find the proper motivation, the desire to make time and find energy, necessary to traverse inevitable obstacles on the enjoyable journey to success.

But even with the proper motivation, keeping resolutions can be difficult. Fear of failure and exposure of flaws compound making the process of beginning an experience unfortunately brushed off until the start of the new year. To best keep resolutions, consider these three key elements while making new resolutions.

The Three Key Elements 

Write. Put pen to paper or finger to computer key. Make the resolution real through inscribing it in one form or another. With precision. Rather than writing “Run a marathon” relate something personal like my own resolution to “Run the LA marathon in under three hours and five minutes.” This makes the resolution tangible, feasible and obtainable.

Form. Invest in the necessary materials. Gather supportive friends. Reach out to like-minded strangers (who will become friends). Cut out those distracting things and people that are more hindrance than help. Form the person you need to be and the groups you need to be involved with to ultimately keep the resolution you desire.

Act. Now. Don’t wait until the start of the new year. Or the beginning of the following year or even the year after that. Act upon the desire for improvement and change in your life through creating a new resolution in the here and the now. Millions will wait until New Year’s Day to begin anew. Why wait and deny yourself (as well as those in your surroundings) the incredible person you are resolved to become?

A Final Note 

To any who may need more encouragement to begin, or simply to continue, with their new resolutions before New Year’s Day, be sure to check out this video (and look at its date of publication): An Invocation for Beginnings.