This is the time of the year when many of us make our New Year’s resolutions. Remember last year when you resolved to lose 15 pounds? How did that work out? Or do you remember when you resolved to take that course of study so you could get a better job? Oh ... you’re still in the same old job? How about that time when you decided to learn a second language? Habla Español? It seems like what we often call a New Year’s resolution could or should more aptly be called our New Year’s dream. It’s what we would like to happen, but it’s not something we’re willing to spend the time, energy, and resources to make happen.
That is not to say that some people don’t do what they planned to do; there are those who can actually distinguish between reverie and reality. They’re probably the people sitting in the corner office, or who live in that nice house by the water – you know, the ones who were probably the inspiration for you to make that New Year’s resolution.
Over the years I’ve known many really bright people. And, I’ve also known many of average intelligence and even some who were not very bright. Interestingly, not all those with the highest level of intelligence were necessarily the most successful. Quite a number of what would be considered those of average intelligence achieved significant success because of their ability to choose a field of work that they enjoyed, and then committed themselves to doing the best job they could. By their very nature, most were as prudent in their lifestyle as they were with their job.
Many years ago I read an interesting article about achieving success. In the article, the author wrote about people who seemed to always be desirous of and pushing for a promotion. He wrote of the frustration and disappointment those individuals felt from repeatedly being “passed over” by someone else. The author pointed out that, often, the individual spends too much time thinking about their desire for a promotion than they do about the job they are being paid to do. His suggestion was to concentrate on one’s current job, and then committing oneself to doing that job better than anyone else. By doing that, the individual becomes a highly valued employee, and his/her work ethic and commitment to the job at hand make them worthy of a promotion.
Over the years, I have worked with both types of people – the ones who thought they should be promoted because of who they were, and those who concentrated on doing their jobs the best they could. Not so surprisingly, the latter group often overcame not having academic credentials to become the managers of those who did. In the private sector, the ability to achieve the desired results is what drives the merit-based systems for pay and promotion.
So, getting back to the making of New Year’s resolutions. Please, make them only if you’re willing to do what it takes to see them through. For example, if your desire is to lose 15 pounds, first think about what you have to do to achieve that result, what are you going to give up? How will that achieve your goal? How long will it take to achieve your goal? If you achieve your goal, then what do you do to prevent re-acquiring the lost 15 pounds. These are but of a few things you need to consider and document and adhere to. Something similar should also be documented and planned for your other resolutions. When you go through this planning process, you should take the time to evaluate whether the desired result is worth the effort. If you’re not committed to achieving the desired result, move on to something else.
Let me close by offering what I call a shared resolution; something each of us can do without a lot of effort needed to achieve the desired results. Ready: “To do my best each day to be a better person.” Easy to do. See that person wheeling their cart towards the door? Give them the right of way with a smile. See the rear lights come on in a car in the parking lot or on the street? Often they can’t see you but you can see them. Why not stop and let them out? At a three- or four-way stop sign, why not wave the other car through? See a shorter person looking at the top shelf in the supermarket? Why not offer to help reach that product? Have some spare time? How about volunteering at any number of places – your church, Service Link, LRGHealthcare, St. Vincent De Paul, Salvation Army, Goodwill, the VA Home, the local schools, giving a hand or a lift to a neighbor or friend.