Who will you be this year?
A. I believe in the power of New Year’s Resolutions and set them each year.
B. I believe in the power of New Year’s Resolutions but rarely set them.
C. I don’t even like to hear the words New Year’s Resolution.
If your answer is C, bear with me. I’m confident you’ll find some value in my unique approach to resolutions.
I won’t bore you with the statistics regarding the overall success rate of New Year’s Resolutions, of which there are many. Let’s just say they aren’t very encouraging.
So, rather than attempting to convince you that I have the secret sauce to finally adhering to resolutions, I’d like to introduce you to a new strategy that I believe is much more effective. Unlike the traditional goals of weight loss and increased finances, which are often fueled by will power and eventually succumb to old habits, this strategy looks at who you need to be in order to get what you want.
Wanting to lose weight and increase your finances are admirable goals, but they both fall into the what category. Think of them as destinations. We all know that without a destination, your goal is futile. Unfortunately, choosing a destination is where most people stop. They simply declare what they are going to accomplish in the new year and hope that the temporary momentum (and adrenaline) will carry them. That is until they crash into the proverbial wall of reality. If you identified with statement C above, it’s likely that you’ve run into this wall one too many times. I know I have.
Let’s look beyond the what part of a resolution for a moment and consider the most critical component, which is who you need to be. You see, our character influences every choice we make. Of course we all possess a certain amount of will power, which allows us to make decisions that may not be consistent with our character. However, at the end of the day, character always prevails.
Imagine that Julie has a resolution of getting into better shape. Immediately after securing a gym membership, her will power kicks in and she becomes a gym fanatic for the next three weeks. Unfortunately, perseverance has never been a part of her character, so when the complexity of life slowly creeps in, the will power she once had is suddenly replaced with her true character. Before she knows it, the gym is a distant memory. Sound familiar?
Imagine if Julie had spent some time considering who she needed to be in order to achieve her goal. With a little bit of self-awareness, it’s likely she would identify perseverance as an area of weakness. Therefore, instead of simply declaring “I’m going to get in better shape,” she could add the character trait of perseverance to her mental arsenal.
I truly believe that if you simply focus on who you’d like to be in the new year, you’ll begin to accomplish goals that you were unable to in the past.
Here’s the application part of the blog. I want you to spend some time in self-awareness over the next day or two, carefully considering the character traits that are areas of opportunity for you. Once you’ve done this, choose one word that seems to surface to the top. Perhaps you’re like Julie and you tend to fold in the midst of challenges. Your word might be perseverance or grit.
Once you’ve chosen your word, I want you to imagine looking at it on December 31, 2016, as you reflect on the previous year. Now answer this question – What is the sentence that captures the essence of who you were throughout the year?
Let me share mine with you. My word is peace. As I imagine thinking about this word at the end of the year, here’s the sentence that really resonates.
I trusted the vine to work in and through me so that I would bear the fruit of peace.
Mine happens to be inspired by one of my favorite bible verses (John 15:5).
Here are some other examples.
I remained optimistic in the midst of challenges.
I kept a consistent work ethic throughout the year.
I listened empathically to the loved ones in my life.
Once you’ve established your New Year’s sentence, I invite you to place it somewhere visible and use it as a reminder of who you’ve chosen to be this year. Remember, in order to get what you want, you need to be aware of who you want to be.
Happy New Year!