You Keep Using That Word. I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means

You know the one – Resolutions.

This time of year that word gets thrown about with abandon. Everyone makes so many resolutions – lose weight, quit smoking, find a new job, be nicer, read more, use the juicer everyday…

I get it – a new year, start fresh, be a better person, or a skinnier person or a more successful person in the upcoming year.

But it appears that we need some clarification.

So first, there is this:
[rez-uh-loo-shuh n]
2. a resolve or determination: to make a firm resolution to do something.
3.the act of resolving or determining upon an action or course of action, method, procedure, etc.
4.the mental state or quality of being resolved or resolute; firmness of purpose.

It seems many people confuse that term with this one:
wish list
a usually unwritten list of desired but often realistically unobtainable items

This New Years Resolution thing has gotten out of hand. I know people with a list of 10-20 resolutions.

Seriously? I can’t even successfully shop for a list of 20 items without deciding something is too expensive, or not worth doubling back through the store to pick up.

You’re going to change 10-20 habits that are, in some cases, lifelong? Just like that, by making the declaration that it will be so?

Now, I am totally a believer in words. Saying something out loud, or writing it down makes it more real. But it’s just the first step. There’s all this other stuff that goes into manifesting change. What is it…?

Oh, that’s right— effort.

This, people, is what resolution looks like:

And when you are splitting your effort and attention between 10-20 resolutions, you’re multitasking.

And while this may be a word of choice on CVs, in reality it’s counter productive. Don’t believe me? Dan Thurman says so. Don’t like motivational speakers? Fine, me neither. How about scientific studies in peer-reviewed journals? You can track down one in The Neuron, referenced in this article in Scientific American.

Your desire to change everything may just result in nothing changing at all.

It’s the effort, and you can’t put maximum effort into everything simultaneously. You have to prioritize.

Take shoveling snow and cleaning dishes. I wish to have both clean dishes and a walkway that can be safely navigated. But it is physically impossible to be outside shoveling snow and inside doing dishes at the same time.

And since time is the only resource that is required by both goals, I can either do one job well, or do a slipshod job on the walkway and a half-assed job with the dishes in the same amount of time.

So it comes down to this. I have an immaculate walk, and dirty dishes in the sink.


Because I resolve to not fall and break myself because I’m a dumbass who didn’t shovel the walk. And this resolution also covers my desire that some sue happy delivery person can’t take a skid off my ramp and be handed a lawsuit on a silver platter to kick off their New Year.

I wish the dishes were clean. But the worst thing that can happen if those aren’t attended to is a few moments of embarrassment when an unexpected guest arrives, or the inconvenience of having to wash a single spoon to eat a bowl of cereal.

So it’s easy. Embarrassment and inconvenience vs. pain and financial disaster.

The walk becomes the priority, and is therefore where I place my effort.

So instead of creating another wishlist, pick one thing or maybe two, and create resolution behind them this year. Something that can become a priority, that you are willing to place all of your effort behind.

As for me, in 2010, I hit the perfect resolution. It’s one that matters significantly in all areas of my life, and one which I have successfully kept. It would work for you too, if you feel like checking it out.


One thought on “You Keep Using That Word. I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means

  1. I totally get what you’re saying. Toward that end, I probably come off as a huge lunatic for being that person you describe herein, choosing to split my efforts in 10 different places. Fortunately, none of my “Resolutions” or “Goals” or whatever could result in either pain or getting sued should I neglect to follow through. Otherwise, I’d be right there with you, babe! Mostly I’m trying to do exactly what you suggest: a bare minimum, half-assed attempt to get at least A FEW things accomplished this year. Without some sort of plan in place, I’ll continue to run around in circles chanting mantras that get me no where. One of the many things that struck me over the past couple years is my highly intellectual method of avoidance — if I know I can’t do it perfectly (whatever “it” is), I tend to NOT even try. This year I’m giving failure a chance, lolz… aim low, that’s my plan for the year. If I even accomplish one small part of one item on my list, that will be a massively successful achievement!

    All that being said, I decided on Jan. 1st to postpone starting my exciting new plans until next week, cuz I’m still on vacation-mode with my kids. So I’m not off to a terribly great start. But… I also don’t give a crap, lolz! 🙂


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