2021 New Year’s Resolutions

I know in my last post I discussed giving my top 5 worst things of 2020 but who wants to start a new year that way? Let’s just let 2020 go…why dwell on the bad, you know?

So, I thought naturally why not think about my New Year’s resolutions? Doesn’t every human basically do that? Based on the number of YouTube videos with this title, the answer is clearly “yes,” but I wanted to do this differently this year.

Focus on Resolute

I needed to head back to basics in a way. The word “resolution” has become so buzzy that the actual meaning routinely gets lost and, from context of said YouTube videos, means something along the lines of restrictions. All typical resolutions involve doing more of what we “should” be doing: eating better, exercising more, losing weight, quitting of a vice. You get the picture…and maybe this works for you. Conclusively, I know it doesn’t work for me.

The question, really, is what I want it to do for me. Restrictions-as-resolutions work only if the end game you’re looking for is achievable in a relatively short amount of time: precisely the amount of time you can gut out just about any behavior. Because restrictions only define what can’t be done; they don’t give any solutions to changing what isn’t working.

But if we look at the actual word, we see that our resolution today comes from the Latin “resolvere” meaning to “loosen, to release.” Well now. That’s very different from restriction. After a long, deep dive into the dictionary, trust me that this word is complicated in that it means a release or unbiding AND/OR a statement of will…I’m not sure where that leaves us except to conlude that there’s room to argue that a resolution is not essentially a restriction….which means room for me to take it in another direction.

2021 Guideposts

As I see it, restrictions don’t work for me because they prescribe a behavior I don’t necessarily want to do to achieve a specific goal I do want without requiring me to really change my behavior for long enough to be effective. What?!? As Captain Tom “Stinger” Jordan said in Top Gun, “Son, your ego’s writing checks your body can’t cash.” We all think we can live on 900 calories and run 7 miles a day off the couch—it’s just a matter of will. That’s also why in June of the same year we’re still fat and have shin splints. If we want to change, some of us radically, we have to do it intelligently…and unfortunately, I’ve come to the conclusion that that takes time, will, and…resolution…that is to say, the willingness to commit to really changing.

So, it that spirit, here are my guideposts, so far, for 2021.

1. Collect data. A feeling of failure and a lack of data is the #1 reason I stop behavior change in its tracks. I don’t have to like what the data says…I just have to collect it.

2. Do the research but don’t tune out intuition. So. Many. Conflicting. Opinions. It can be paralyzing. So, while research and learning is key, this year, it’s all in service of making the right decision for me.

3. Take some moderate risks and a few scary risks. I’m feeling the weight of the complacency of the middle class. Am I comfortable? Yes. I could stay in this holding pattern forever…but I don’t want that. Let’s push some boundaries this year and grow…and the only way to do that is to skin a couple knees along the way. But like a stock portfolio, diversify…not every risk should be life-threatening…maybe just one…because it makes you feel alive.

4. Reward success. I’m truly terrible at this at it’s made me into a somewhat cynical and jaded unhappy camper. If I did acknowledge success, even just to myself alone, I wouldn’t feel like such a failure all the time…because I have had successes…I just never think they’re enough.

5. Review and return to a reasonable timeline for change. I expect immediate results from change and that just doesn’t seem to happen. I’m actually scripting out realistic timelines for seeing change even if I hate that they’re so long…because there may opportunities within that I don’t even realize. And I need to remind myself of this over and over.

So there you have it. My resolutions. They’re so different, I can only hope this year will be different…and with it, so will I.

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