“What you’ve done becomes the judge of what you’re going to do especially in other people’s minds. When you’re traveling, you are what you are right there and then. People don’t have your past to hold against you. No yesterdays on the road”
From “Blue Highways” by William Least Heat-Moon
Life is a journey. It will be easier on the road of life if there are no yesterdays that limit you. You should let the past be a guide but not some immutable road-map. Who you have been does not define who you will become. There are new adventures, new people, new places and new feelings along the road. Do not let what you have done become the judge of what you can do. Shakespeare pointed out, “What’s past is prologue.”
If you let your past define the future, then New Year’s resolutions are just hope being valued more than experience. The hard reality is that fewer than half of the resolutions survive to February 1st. Despite that, they must have some value because they have been around as long as civilization. Certainly the Babylonian and Roman cultures featured them.
I suppose it is possible that the resolutions disappear because they have been satisfied by February 1st. Why stay on a diet after losing that extra 30 pounds?
Right! More likely, we fail because we have not prepared the resolution properly. It is not enough to want to quit smoking, lose weight, clean up your office, or return borrowed farm equipment to its owner (A common Babylonian resolution.) We must feel the need to make it happen.
When we need something we prepare differently than when we want something. Wanting is like dreaming. Needing is about doing. Prove the need to yourself and the resolution business will go more smoothly.
When you need, you have an action plan. You have a time frame with intermediate goals. You have resources committed. You have a person to report to. You have a plan B for when Plan A does not work out. You should have plans C, D and E too, because no plan survives contact with reality. Keep in mind that plans are not actions. Resolving does not create the fact. Know what you will do when your easy to say resolution becomes hard to do.
It is okay to change your plan as you learn more. Good plans evolve; they are not created.
Maybe the strength of your resolution will be to learn how you came to be overweight, a smoker, a couch potato or a slob. Once you know it, you can manage it.
Failing in the resolution and addressing the failures with plan B, C, D, E and more, will eventually fulfill the resolution. Possibly you will come to understand that the matter does not need resolving. In any case, you will be a more versatile person for having gone down the hard path.
Good Luck with it and Happy New Year. May 2013 exceed your hopes.
Don Shaughnessy is a retired partner in an international accounting firm and is presently with The Protectors Group, a large personal insurance, employee benefits and investment agency in Peterborough Ontario. firstname.lastname@example.org