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Do you share your New Year’s resolutions?

A 2007 research study from the University of Bristol found that women were more successful at achieving their New Year’s resolutions when they shared them publicly.

At a weekend dinner party, I kicked off a discussion about resolutions and then was appropriately heckled when I tried to not to share mine. One could argue my conduct was misguided given the research, however the same study found the secret for men was to set measurable, goal-oriented resolutions.

I am strikingly influenced by both data points. I am always a big fan of measurement and I have been known to share more than one personal tidbit in my life. Both about me and those close to me…usually to their unfortunate chagrin. So it wasn’t totally unfounded when one of the dinner party guests whispered to my wife that my # 1 resolution should be to “get some duct tape for my mouth.”

Given that sort of sentiment, I should have received heaping praise for my reluctance to share. But there was a deeper reason. The best resolutions reflect something much more powerful than a simple “goal.” They provide a window into our soul.

For that, I wanted keep my resolutions list secret, or at least partially. Allow me to explain. I think it’s fundamental to the challenge we all face in life. And that is, we are human.

I had many successes in 2013. But I also had many failures. I am convinced that if I shared the events that I deemed unsuccessful, or the situations that cause me to lose sleep, or the demons that run through my brain daily…you may somehow see me as weak and unfit to be your consultant, colleague, boss, friend, or trusted family member. Most of my “resolution” checklist is built on these loose footings. Somehow it’s easier to make plans from ashes than flowers.

I realize this isn’t healthy. Allowing these issues to rule one’s life will take the colour out of 2014. So I have been trying to crystallize one simple, more positive resolution for the year. I don’t have it perfected yet and candidly that makes me happy. If I can distill it to a tag line, it wouldn’t be authentic. God knows I do enough of that in my life.

During the party I stated I wanted to avoid the one BIG work disaster that seems to throw a cloud over every year. Pretty sure each of us could circle that one on our calendars. But yesterday as I trudged my way through fresh snow on the Niagara Escarpment, I realized this resolution needed reorienting. Let’s make it positive. So instead I resolve that every day, I am going to chase the one BIG work triumph that will shine brightly over all else that happens. In fact I am so enthused by this idea, I plan to extend it to my family life, my circle of friends, my personal fitness, my coaching, my volunteerism, and even my pets. Okay, the last one I made up.

But I like this spin. Forget avoiding disaster, let’s chase glory! After all, there has to be a reason it’s called HAPPY New Year!

Happy End Year

MH3 —  December 4, 2013

Please stop staring at me.

You’re giving me the willies. Besides it’s not very polite.

What’s so interesting about me? I’m not the only person on the planet who is guilty of what I did. Don’t even try to tell me that everybody else is innocent. Shame. Ridicule. Teasing. All of your tactics are unfair and downright annoying.

I see your beady eyes Father Time. Gleefully telling me it’s December already. Laughingly mocking me that 2014 is so close, that I probably swallowed three days in January with my last swill from my cappuccino accompanying this writing session. Must be nice to be so darn smug.

My annoyance is founded. The truth hurts. It is December. I am down to only a few more weeks to achieve my New Year’s resolutions. Yikes.

What about you?

Did you lose that weight? Go to the cottage more? Make those new friends? Read those books? Watch less TV? Swear less? Drink less? Swear you would drink less?

Father Time isn’t just looking at me. He’s stalking you too brothers and sisters. Better finish off those 2013 proclamations soon.

Or you won’t have time to make any for 2014!

New Year #3

MH3 —  September 4, 2013

In the course of a calendar year there are actually three “new years” we all experience.

One is January 1st. Fairly universal, unless you follow a unique religious calendar.

The second is your birthday. That day marks your own personal new year.

The third is the start of the school year, even, if you are like me, for whom school ended a quarter century ago.

But no matter how long ago your last “first day of school” was, every September still marks the beginning of a new year. Perhaps it’s your child starting school or your niece off to Western (like mine is) or a neighbour’s child entering their last year of secondary school. We all feel the start of the new school year.

The roads are busier. Our meeting agendas even busier. Even TV schedules are packed with the new fall shows.

There is no escaping it. September is the start of a new year.

But don’t fear. Let’s take advantage of it. Let’s use it to motivate us, inspire us, refresh us. Set some school-year resolutions. Take advantage of the fact that everyone is hungry to get stuff done, meet Q4 targets, get a head start on 2014.

So Happy New Year. Feel free to have a little party, some bubbly, a celebration. Nothing better than a perceived clean slate to get the engines fired up!

Resolute

MH3 —  January 3, 2013

According to Wikipedia, the origin of New Year’s resolutions ranges from the Babylonians promising to return borrowed objects and pay down debts to the Romans making promises to their god Janus, the namesake of the month of January.

While there are many online sources that can tell us from where the tradition sprang, there are even more voices that offer unsolicited advice on why people don’t succeed in completing their vows. Reading those essays made me realize that this year I need to do a little better job of thinking through my resolutions.

Perhaps I need to start with the most basic question of all. Should I make any resolutions? Hmm. That leads to the startlingly obvious issue….why do I make them?

I would be lying if I didn’t admit to you that I do feel a New Year is monumental. Materially you could argue it’s false. The most physically significant change to our lives is adjusting our date memory to end in a 3 versus a 2! The rest? A new scorecard for your business? A new semester for your schooling? A new season of holiday weekends to plan?

But the feeling does persist. Yet I am not sure I can articulate it.

Perhaps it’s because there is no more liberating feeling than starting over. A clean slate. A fresh beginning. A whole new ballgame.

If last year was a tough one, you can see a world of potential in this one.

If last year was a great one, you can envision keeping your friend momentum chugging along!

If last year had ups and downs, surely 2013 will be all peaks.

Most of us like keeping score. Keeping score until infinity isn’t any fun. So a calendar year provides a nice tidy beginning and end to your personal game of life. The year is the entire game. The months and weeks become periods. The days become shifts.

So back to the resolutions? I am going to put to use this Wayne Gretzky quotation, “You’ll always miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

So don’t be afraid of making resolutions you don’t achieve. Make a few. Chase them with enthusiasm.

My #1 Resolution for 2013? I already told you!

Be resolute.