The Key Difference Between Resolutions and Resolve

Millions of Americans made New Year’s Resolutions this week. Most of them will fail. In fact, 25% of people bail on their resolutions after just one week. Are you one of them? All of those good intentions to make improvements in your health, family, or career…do they actually work? Research shows that less than 8% of us are successful by the end of the year.

Don’t be discouraged by this dismal statistic. Many well-intentioned people simply don’t have the tools or knowledge to make their resolutions stick and accomplish their goals.

Do you want to make this year different by turning your resolutions into habits and lasting change? You can. The key is understanding the subtle difference between a resolution and resolve.

RESOLUTION is defined as a decision to do or not do something.

RESOLVE is defined as firm determination to do something.

Notice the difference? One is wishful thinking. A fleeting moment in time. The other involves ongoing action with a fixed purpose. A dedication to the process.

Anyone can make a resolution. Not everyone has resolve.

Here are four ways to improve your resolve and achieve your goals:

1. Design SMART goals. Things like “exercise more” and “increase sales” aren’t going to get you the results you want. A SMART goal is:

Specific. You can’t measure success if your goal is vague. “Pay $3,000 down on my credit card balance” is specific. “Reduce debt” is not.

Meaningful. In order to maintain resolve, your goal needs to compel you to stay dedicated on the days you don’t feel like it. Meaningful goals are not boring. They stimulate you intellectually, move you spiritually, challenge you physically, and energize you emotionally.

Achievable. Goals should stretch you, and get you out of your comfort zone. At the same time, they should be realistic. A dream of mine might be to play on the LPGA. I’m much more likely to shave 5 strokes off my handicap this year.

Relevant. Your goals need to be tied to your core values and “burning why.” Are they aligned with who you are? Do they follow the mission and vision of your organization?

Time-bound. Your goal needs a timeframe. Deadlines keep you focused and motivated. “Lose weight” is a vague resolution. “Lose 20 pounds by June 1″ is a SMART goal.

2. Write down your goals. You are three times more likely to achieve your goals when you write them down, and make them visible. Display them somewhere you see them daily.

3. Stay outcome driven, and process focused. Let the desired result drive you, but don’t let it overwhelm you. Focus on the next right step. If you look at the entire action plan required to meet your goal, you can get bogged down in analysis paralysis. You can’t eat an elephant in one day. You do it in bite-sized chunks.

4. Celebrate milestones. You won’t accomplish the change you want to make in your life overnight. Improvement worth making requires endurance and dedication. You may get discouraged along the way and be tempted to quit. Don’t wait until you reach the end goal to celebrate success. Revel in the small victories along the way. Want to lose 20 pounds? Throw a party when you’ve shed the first five.

Don’t make useless resolutions you won’t keep this year. Instead, develop a firm determination to make lasting changes in your life.

Wishing you a Happy New Year, and the resolve to reach your goals!

 
 

No Story but Your Own

Have you ever felt like things are going swimmingly in everyone’s life around you, meanwhile you’re drowning? Do you ever get stuck in your own stuff?

Ya, me too.

I love the power of a good story. This summer I’ve been reading through The Chronicles of Narnia with my kids. We started with The Magician’s Nephew and have almost completed A Horse and His Boy. The only book in the series I read as a child was The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, so this is a special treat for me.

In C.S. Lewis’ famous series, he brilliantly provides several illustrations of God’s love for us. As the Christian allegory goes, Lewis uses the character Aslan (a lion) to represent Jesus.

Last night’s chapter struck me. We often seek to understand why bad things happen, in our own journey and in the lives of others. It is in times of walking alone in darkness that we realize God is there. He has been there the whole time, waiting for us to speak.

Shasta (the “boy” in A Horse and His Boy) was lost. He was wandering in the dark on a lonely road, dwelling on his misfortune. It was in this dark place that he met Aslan for the first time.

“I do think, said Shasta, “that I must be the most unfortunate boy that ever lived in the whole world. Everything goes right for everyone except me.”

His mind was racing and he was drowning in his circumstances. Can you relate? His thoughts were consumed with all the bad things that had happened to him. He can no longer rely on his own strength. It is in this moment of complete emptiness when he realizes Aslan’s presence.

“And being very tired and having nothing inside him, he felt so sorry for himself that the tears rolled down his cheeks. What put a stop to all this was a sudden fright. Shasta discovered that someone or somebody was walking beside him. It was pitch dark and he could see nothing.”

Have you ever walked Shasta’s road? Have you walked along in darkness? Felt completely alone, yet realized you weren’t alone?

“Who are you?” Shasta said, scarcely above a whisper.
“One who has waited long for you to speak,” said the Thing. Its voice was not loud, but very large and deep. “Tell me your sorrows.”

Wow. I forgot. God wants to hear my sorrows. My tendency is to try and suck it up and stay positive. To not complain. To rely on  my own strength. God wants to hear your sorrows.

Shasta told now how he had never known his real father or mother and had been brought up sternly by the fisherman. And then he told the story of his escape and how they were chased by lions and forced to swim for their lives; and of all their dangers in Tashbaan and about his night among the tombs and how the beasts howled at him out of the desert. And he told about the heat and thirst of their desert journey and they were almost at their goal when another lion chased them and wounded Aravis. And also, how very long it was since he had had anything to eat.

God’s response to your sorrows is to tell you your story.

“I do not call you unfortunate,” said the Large Voice.
“Don’t you think it was bad luck to meet so many lions?” said Shasta.
“There was only one lion,” said the Voice.
“What on earth do you mean? I’ve just told you there were at least two the first night, and—

“There was only one, but he was swift of foot.”
“How do you know?”
“I was the lion.” And as Shasta gaped with open mouth and said nothing, the Voice continued. “I was the the lion who forced you to join with Aravis. I was the cat who comforted you among the houses of the dead. I was the lion who drove the jackals from you while you slept…”

God not only knows your story, he is an integral part of it.

“Then it was you who wounded Aravis?”
“It was I.”
“But what for?”
“Child,” said the Voice, ” I am telling you your story, not hers. I tell no one any story but his own.”

He tells no one any story but his own.

I have struggled while I watch friends suffer. Children get cancer. Spouses leave. Breadwinners lose jobs. Why? I’m not told any story but my own.

In my own story, I’ve walked some dark roads. I’ve felt sorry for myself. I’ve lamented the attack of several lions.

I’ve felt like everyone around me is happily married while I’m going through the pain of divorce. Like all the girls at the ballet studio are gleefully dancing while my daughter cries in the corner. Like I gave up my career for over a decade and there’s no way I can get it back. Like all my friends carry their designer handbags and drive carpool and complain when their husbands are out of town for a week while I take out the trash at midnight…again.

But God longs for me to speak. He wants me to share my sorrows. And in conversing with him, I’m reminded he is with me and an integral part of my story.

There is only one Lion.

Does this allegory speak to you? When are some times you’ve realized God is telling you your story?

 
 

When Hurt People Hurt Other People

Another tragic hate crime. It’s almost too much to take.

In response to the Charleston shooting, I’ve seen people cast blame, lament racism, talk in circles about guns, and spew more hatred. It’s the easy thing to do.

I haven’t heard anyone say what they, as an individual, plan to do about it in a positive way. It’s impossible to make sense of such a horrific act. We overanalyze. We try to solve the global problem with sweeping statements, generalizations, and vague criticisms. How does this approach translate to solutions? Or real impact?

The individual often feels helpless. Talking heads look for someone else to make things better. Someone with more power or influence must change things.

The solution starts with you and me. The problem is complex and seems overwhelming. Still, I believe as individuals we have the ability to make an impact, no matter how close or how far we are from the actual tragedy.

[Read more…]

 
 

The Difference Between a Resolution and Resolve

Millions of Americans made New Year’s Resolutions this week. Most are related to improvements in health, family, career, or personal growth. Does the tradition of setting out to make positive change this way work? Research shows that less than 8% of us are actually successful.

2015

Don’t be discouraged by this dismal statistic.

Do you want to make this year different by turning your resolutions into habits and lasting change? You can. The key is understanding the subtle difference between a resolution and resolve.

RESOLUTION is defined as a decision to do or not to do something.

RESOLVE is defined as firm determination to do something.

Notice the difference? One is wishful thinking. A fleeting moment in time. The other involves ongoing action with a fixed purpose.

Anyone can make a resolution. Not everyone has resolve.

How do you get it? Some people are born with it, but resolve can be learned. Here are four ways to improve your resolve:

  1. Make a plan. It’s easy to think of a resolution, but it requires time and deliberation to craft a plan. The process of getting to the goal is critical. Write it down, step by step. Be specific. Include details about what you need to do to get there.
  2. Secure an accountability partner. Research shows this is key. Want to exercise more? Find a friend who has the same goal and hold each other accountable. Check in weekly to see how it’s going.
  3. Set reminders. You’ve set a plan and have a partner in crime. But old habits die hard. It takes a while to get into the swing of things and make lasting changes. Your plan includes detailed actions. Put them on your calendar. Set alerts on your phone. Dust off your sticky notes.
  4. Celebrate milestones. You won’t accomplish the change you want to make in your life overnight. Improvement worth making requires endurance. You may get discouraged along the way and be tempted to quit. Don’t wait until you reach the end goal to celebrate ultimate success. Revel in the small victories along the way. Want to lose 20 pounds? Throw a party when you’ve shed the first five.

Don’t make useless resolutions you won’t keep this year. Instead, find the resolve to make lasting changes in your life.

Wishing you a Happy New Year, full of abiding love, friendship and joy!