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How To Make Resolutions You’ll Keep

How To Make Resolutions You’ll Keep

This is a time when people make resolutions and think about the changes they plan for the year ahead. 2005 is past; 2006 is lit by a glow of anticipation. The world of blogs is replete with suggestions for suitable resolutions, notes on how best to implement them and motivational pieces to get you started.

That’s not where I plan to go.

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I want to look back to the year that’s past, and try to recall the resolutions I didn’t keep in 2005: all the good intentions that came to nothing; the plans that somehow dissolved as they met reality. What did I want that I failed to act on? What did I hope for, then gradually allow to drift into limbo?


Why do this? Not to berate myself for what I left undone; nor to feel that most useless and pointless of emotions, guilt. What I hope is to learn from what happened—or didn’t happen— and discover things essential for the year ahead.

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There are no failures, only experiments that didn’t work. Every action (including inaction) produces a result; and every result is a way to help you learn more. Maybe you resolved to quit smoking, but are still puffing away on that cancerous weed. Ask yourself what held you back you from your resolve. What was more important to you than giving up cigarettes? The good feelings smoking gives you? The belief that it helps you stay slim? Social pressures? Maybe you resolved to lose weight, but weigh pretty much the same as before. What was more important than being thinner? The pleasure of eating? Relief from loneliness? Bingeing on chocolate or Doritos to offset some unhappiness? Did you fail to keep your plan to get better qualifications because of financial stress—or fear of leaving your predictable rut?

There’s always a reason in what you do, and in whatever you fail to do as well. Most often, it’s linked to your values. They aren’t all equal: the more important values trump the weaker ones. Concern for your health may be one of your values, but if wanting to fit in with your friends ranks higher, you’ll continue to smoke, or drink too much, or spend too much, if that’s what it takes to stay part of the gang. Make all the resolutions you wish. Until you change the relative ranking of your values, nothing in your behavior will to alter for long.

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The point of this exercise is to discover what rational decisions caused you to step away from what you resolved. Which were the values you acted on because they ranked highest? Not the ones linked to your resolutions. If they had been the most important, you’d be looking back on plans made and kept. Something else was stronger, so—completely rationally, if not always consciously—you did what it told you, and walked away from what you intended to do.

Never make resolutions simply because you feel it’s the right thing to do; they won’t have the force of deep, underlying values needed to produce success. Take whatever time you need time to work out what truly counts for you and link any resolutions to that. If your resolutions don’t draw on your strongest values; don’t spring from feelings and beliefs too important to ignore, they will quickly be swept away. You’ll feel bad for a little while, then forget about them—until next January 1st. A few moments of guilt will be your only reward, not success—nor a valuable lesson in self-discovery.

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There are no failures. Your mistakes are experiments every bit as useful as your successes, as long as you learn from them. Don’t rush ahead to a new set of resolutions for 2006 without getting the full benefit from all those you made last year; whether you kept them, lost them or set them aside. Stop, reflect and consider. If you only do that, you’ll have learned the most valuable lesson of them all: the lesson of lifelong learning.

Adrian Savage is an Englishman and a retired business executive who lives in Tucson, Arizona. You can read his thoughts most days at Slow Leadership, the site for anyone who wants to bring back the taste, zest and satisfaction to leadership, and The Coyote Within.

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Last Updated on October 9, 2018

How to Write a Personal Mission Statement to Ensure Peak Productivity

How to Write a Personal Mission Statement to Ensure Peak Productivity

Most of you made personal, one sentence resolutions like “I want to lose weight” or “I vow to go back to school.” It is a tradition to start the New Year with things you want to achieve, but under the influence resolutions are often unrealistic.

If you’re wondering when will be a good time to write a mission statement, NOW is the time to take a personal inventory to make this year your most productive year ever. You may be asking yourself, “How am I going to do that?” You, my friends, are going to write personal mission statements.

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A large number of corporations use mission statements to define the purpose of the company’s existence. Sony wants to “become the company most known for changing the worldwide poor-quality image of Japanese products” and 3M wants “to solve unsolved problems innovatively”. A personal mission statement is different than a corporate mission statement, but the fundamentals are the same.

So why do you need one? A personal statement will help you identify your core values and beliefs in one fluid tapestry of content that you can read anytime and anywhere to stay on task toward success.

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For example, Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire came to the realization that he had lost track of what was important to him. After writing a personal mission statement, we saw him start his own business and he got the girl, Renee Zelleweger. Not bad, wouldn’t you say? A personal mission statement will make sure that, through all the texting, emailing and constant bombardment of on-the-go activity, you won’t lose sight of what is most important to you.

Mission statements can be simple and concise while others are longer and filled with detail. The length of your personal mission statement will not be determined until you follow this simple equation to create your motivational springboard for 2008.

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To begin your internal cleansing, you will need to jot down the required information in the following five steps:

  1. What are your values? Values steer your actions and determine where you spend time, energy, and most importantly, money. Be specific and unique to yourself. Too much generalization will not be as effective. It is called a “personal” mission statement for a reason.
  2. What are three important goals you hope to achieve this year? Keep your list of important goals small and give them a date. It is better to focus on the horizon and not the stars. Realistic goals are keys to ultimate success.
  3. What image do you hope to project to yourself? How you see yourself is how the world will view you. Think about this carefully. Your image should encompass what you look like and feel after you have achieved your goals.
  4. Write down action statements from each value describing how you will use those values to achieve your three goals. Start with “I will…”
  5. Rewrite your statement to include only your action statements. Make portable copies for your wallet, car or office.

If you followed the steps above, congratulations! You have just written your first personal mission statement. Your personal statement will change over the years as your goals change. You can have more than one statement for the different compartments of your life such as your career, family, marriage, etc.

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Writing a personal mission statement is an effective method to ensure your productivity is at its peak. It is an ideal tradition to start so that when next year rolls around, the outdated practice of resolutions will be something you permanently left in the past.

Featured photo credit: Álvaro Serrano via unsplash.com

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