The end of the year is a very natural opportunity for reflection. All around me, people are talking about New Year’s resolutions right now. Some do so with a snigger and a laugh. For many, however, making those resolutions is an important annual ritual. It’s their way to clear out the cobwebs of the past year so they can welcome the new year with its yet to be written future. How disheartening it is, therefore, that most such resolutions don’t survive the first week of January, let alone an entire year.
Last year this time I wrote about not feeling any need to make New Year’s resolutions since embracing the power of continuous improvement in my life. That has not changed. In fact, I feel even stronger about that this year, looking back at the numerous small changes that have combined to help our family build a better and happier life on many fronts. But with all the resolution talk going around again, I started pondering why New Year’s resolutions fail so many.
Is it because people are simply not disciplined enough to follow through and stick to their good intentions? There is something in that, I believe. We humans, for all our noble endeavours to improve ourselves, are not very consistent in acting on our dreams and plans.
Fundamentally, however, I believe New Year’s resolutions set us up for disappointment by trying to force change in an unnatural and unsustainable way. They are inherently flawed in that they often reflect an idealized reality – goals set far beyond the realities of now. They are often made in a split second, with no clear course of action tied to them to help us achieve these remarkable goals we set ourselves.
But that is not how you create lasting change in your life. Change comes slowly, creeping – the way dusk gently settles at the end of the day to suddenly cloak the world in darkness, surprising everyone that the light has gone. Change is the product of a series of conscious and principled decisions and actions over time. Some changes take weeks, some months and others yet take many years to play out fully in our lives.
So instead of setting yourself unattainable goals for the coming year, why not commit to one thing only? Commit to seeking and embracing change in those areas of your life where you think it’s needed. Commit to learning from every action and decision in your life, and to applying that learning to positive growth in yourself, your family and the world around you. And although change may not come as fast as human impatience insists it should – it will come.
As surely as the sun will set tonight, change will come.