New beginnings and fresh starts. There is something about the clean slate of a new year that causes most to reflect on the past and determine what we would like to accomplish in the year ahead. We make resolutions as a way to motivate ourselves, but statistics show that only 8% of us feel successful by the end of the year. We seem to be missing an important link between setting a resolution and actually accomplishing it.
Often our list is a culmination of things we want to do, but a “specific, measurable, time-bound goal drives behavior that’s narrowly focused and often leads to either cheating or myopia.” It is easy to set unrealistic or overzealous goals. Without a clear purpose, goals can become nothing more than a weight and burden.
For example, last year a friend of ours set a goal to ride 6,000 miles on his road bike. His purpose was nothing more than to prove that he could do it. As he set out with a laser focused pace to accomplish his goal, he felt like he had a purpose. But somewhere around 4,000 miles, his purpose lost its meaning. His joy and love for riding became hampered with the chore of finishing his goal. By the end of the year, he had completed his goal but was also burnt out on riding. This kind of burnout leads me to ask the question: What is the purpose behind all of our new year’s resolutions anyway? Do we set goals just because it has become the traditional thing to do at the end of the year – or do we desire to become a better person?
As a young teen, I was taught to begin with the end in mind. “What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.” Our goals and resolutions should reflect the type of person we are working to becoming. Rather than the typical motivations, consider your desires. Desire goes beyond just wanting to make something happen, it is a deep commitment or determination to act. Select one new desirable habit, virtue or characteristic. Don’t go overboard – but find something to focus on that matters to you.
For the last 4 months, I’ve been considering my own list of changes. I’ve included them below to help get your creative juices flowing. These 12 choices for change will be part of a monthly series for 2017. I look forward to the new year and the choices it brings for all of us.
12 Choices for Change:
1. January: Believe.
“In order to succeed, we must first believe that we can.” ~Nikos Kazantzakis
2. February: Dare NOT to compare.
“When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everybody will respect you.” ~Lao Tzu
3. March: Be fiercely loyal.
“One of the things that makes me who I am is the loyalty I have to people I hold close to my heart.” ~Simone Elkeles
4. April: Practice Kindness.
“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” ~Mark Twain
5. May: Decide to be fearless.
“Failure seldom stops you. What stops you is the fear of failure.” ~Jack Lemmon
6. June: Cultivate an attitude of gratitude.
“We can lift ourselves, and others as well, when we refuse to remain in the realm of negative thought and cultivate within our hearts an attitude of gratitude.” ~Thomas S. Monson
7. July: Be present.
“Be intent upon the perfection of the present day.” ~William Law
8. August: Give second chances.
“Forgiveness says you are given another chance to make a new beginning.” ~Desmond Tutu
9. September: Take up a new hobby.
“Hobbies are good for your mind and your body.” ~Dani DiPirro
10. October: Choose joy.
“We choose our joys and sorrows long before we experience them.” ~Khalil Gibran
11. November: Persevere in patience.
“Patience is not just about waiting for something…it’s about how you wait, or your attitude while waiting.” ~Joyce Meyer
12. December: Develop courageous strength.
“Work hard for what you want because it won’t come to you without a fight. You have to be strong and courageous and know that you can do anything you put your mind to.” ~Leah LaBelle
 Williams, Ray. Psychology Today.com. Web. 16 Dec. 2016. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/wired-success/201412/why-people-cant-keep-their-new-years-resolutions
 Ziglar, Zig. As quoted in Secrets of Superstar Speakers:
Wisdom from the Greatest Motivators of Our Time (2000) by Lilly Walters, p. 96
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Will you allow life to teach you or defeat you