They are full of possibilities — blank slates, if you will.
If the last year was not so great, there is always a chance to make the next one greater. Pasts almost never have to dictate futures.
As 2014 got its start this past week, I sat down with a journal and a pen and made my annual list of New Year’s resolutions.
The list’s 12 items ran the gamut from getting into better physical shape to learning how to play the guitar — something I have not so far had the patience (or the fingertip callouses) to do despite owning two of the instruments.
Some people say they hate making New Year’s resolutions because they feel they cannot keep them for more than a couple of weeks. Others dislike them because they can paint an unrealistic portrait of what the year might be like, and they feel they may be setting themselves up for big doses of disappointment.
I like to see my list of resolutions as a list of new habits I would like to form. To reach my fitness goal, I will work on getting into the habit of going to the gym more regularly. To reach my goal of becoming a musician, I will be setting aside the time to practice my music.
The secret to not breaking a New Year’s resolution is to see it as something worth recommitting yourself to each day.
I once interviewed a local woman who had set out to lose a great deal of weight and ultimately succeeded in losing close to 100 pounds in just one year. It wasn’t an easy thing to do because she had to make many lifestyle changes, but she decided to make her commitment to herself last long past Jan. 1, 2012.
“Instead of a resolution, I committed myself to make a resolution each day,” Ruthie Forgey, corps administrator for the Salvation Army of Cleveland, said at the beginning of 2013. “My resolution was to make a daily resolution to myself.”
Her advice to others was to do the same, to make daily — not just yearly — resolutions.
I, for one, plan to end each day with a proverbial question mark hanging over my head.
“What will I do tomorrow?” I can ask myself.
The answer is that I will commit to continuing the good habits I started because it will help me reach my goals.
Resolutions are not just habits; they are also goals. Every positive habit on my list will lead me to a positive end result, if I can stick with it.
A goal is what you get after you work to achieve something. The New Oxford American Dictionary says a goal is “the object of a person’s ambition or effort.”
Everyone dreams of something. Everyone, regardless of age or economic status, has something they would like to see have happen to them during the coming year.
While some things that will happen in 2014 will be unexpected and out of your control, others will be up to you to make happen. The point of making a resolution is to put your determination to make great things happen into words so they can later turn into actions.
If your ambition is to be a best-selling novelist, why not start writing a manuscript? If you want to be the owner of your own business, why not do some market research and continue to hone your big idea? If you want to be a marathon runner, why not start training for a shorter race to start?
Whatever your dream is, make it your goal to become closer to reaching it. The hardest part of working toward a goal might just be the act of getting started.
Once you do have a goal in mind, resolve to work toward it little by little each day, and refuse to get discouraged if life’s circumstances get in the way. Break a resolution one day? Hold onto your resolve and carry on with it the next day. A little bit of progress is certainly better than none.
If you see New Year’s resolutions as things you actually can keep, then you are that much closer to reaching your dreams. If you stay on track, the year ahead will have much less room for disappointment.
This new year is full of nothing but potential. Regardless of what happened last year, the slate has been wiped clean yet again.
Whether you are the list-making sort or not, I encourage you to look at this new year and see what you can do with it. With some work and determination, you may be able to do quite a bit.