reset and reframe: new year’s resolutions

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This December was a much-needed break between the first and second six months of the Living Chapters challenge.  In between holidays, I’ve had a bit of time to reflect upon the past year and prepare for the next.  When the calendar and clock reset, many of us also use this opportune time to try to reset ourselves.  We long for new beginnings, work on breaking bad habits and leaving our ruts behind.  We call this “making new-year resolutions”.

Merriam Webster defines a resolution as this:

res·o·lu·tion noun \ˌre-zə-ˈlü-shən\
:  the act or process of resolving : as
   a :  the act of analyzing a complex notion into simpler ones
  b :  the act of answering :  solving
  c :  the act of determining:  the point in a literary work at which the chief dramatic          complication is worked out
: finding an answer or solution to a problem, the answer

I like the idea behind making new year’s resolutions or finding answers and solutions to the problems and complex issues in our lives.  But I find making resolutions a bit pointless and upsetting when we continually fail at following through on them and then feel bad about not keeping them.  This never seems like a good way of starting fresh. This article from The Guardian says new year’s resolutions are “doomed to failure”.  That may be a dismal outlook but unfortunately it may be true, the statistics for successful resolution keepers are less than stellar. I think if we have any hope for personal progress we might need to start re-framing the way we think about making self-improvements or changes.

The psychologist in the article, Richard Wiseman, studied different strategies when making new year’s resolutions.  What I found most interesting was this

“…people who kept their resolutions tended to have broken their goal into smaller steps and rewarded themselves when they achieved one of these. They also told their friends about their goals, focused on the benefits of success and kept a diary of their progress.”

Wiseman himself stated this “Many of the most successful techniques involve making a plan and helping yourself stick to it,”

What stands out to me in this commentary is this: the success stories are ones from those people who make realistic goals, take things day by day, stay positive, and have the accountability of their friends along with themselves.  This is precisely what I had hoped the Living Chapters model would do for myself and others.

In the past few days I celebrated my birthday and the year’s accomplishments with 3 of my favorite people and Living Chapters players, creative, intelligent and wise women: Confidant Elizabeth Brady, Project Manager Moira Fratantuono and Chapter five writer Emily Wheat.  We created our resolutions together for the upcoming year. But rather than resolutions, we agreed to more of a pact – an agreement between friends.  We came up with a goal that is not only plausible for us but one in which we can help each other succeed in achieving.

This year I thank all Living Chapters players and readers for making the pact to come along on this year’s self-improvement adventure with me. Without the loyalty and accountability that you all have given me I’m sure I could not have accomplished as much as I have these past six months.

So my resolution or pact with you all in the upcoming year is to no longer make resolutions in a vacuum, I am going to  continue to tap into the love, loyalty, support and accountability of the friends and community around me to help me achieve my goals.

I’m ready. Bring on 2014 and the next six chapters!

12/29/13

Just finding this blog today? Read more about the Living Chapters project here.

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