The Solution to New Year’s Resolutions

Jackie Gingrich Cushman
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Posted: Jan 04, 2009 12:00 AM

For many, New Year’s “resolutions” evoke memories of good intentions and lofty goals that have been given up by Valentine’s Day.

For others, who are more optimistic, resolutions provide an opportunity to try again to re- solve what does not work in their lives.

This year, while thinking through my New Year’s resolutions – I decided to focus on the “solution” portion of the word. This week, I am taking my New Year’s resolutions and working toward a solution for each. Specifically, I am looking at each of the letters that make up the word “solution” and thinking through how it applies to each of my resolutions.

Specific

Ownership

Leverage

Unique

Teamwork

Items

Ongoing

Now

Specific - What am I trying to achieve? What would the solution to my resolution look like specifically? Many people list “lose weight” on their list of New Year’s resolutions. But what they really want to do is to fit into a certain dress, be able to play more often with their children without losing their breath, or pass a medical test. The target needs to be clear, measurable, and have a timeframe. Once these specifics are set out and written down, they need to be posted where they can be seen every day.

Ownership – I have to take ownership of my goal. I am the only person who can make this change. The resolution is my goal for my life - that makes me the owner of the goal and the outcome. While others can assist, only one person can own the goal and I have to understand that I am the one in control (this one is really hard).

Leverage - What would achieving this goal get me? How would it leverage and change my life? If there is no upside to achieving my goal or no repercussions to not achieving my goal, then I have no incentive to reach it. That means it probably will not happen. To reach a goal, I have to understand the leverage that achieving this goal will have on the rest of my life. What leverage does it provide?

Unique - Why is this goal important to me? Why do I want to accomplish this goal – how will I feel and what will it mean to me personally? For example, am I trying to provide a good role model for my children, get ready for a ski trip or improve my health? The reason I want to succeed has to be strong enough to make me change my current habits. The more specific, personal and emotional the reasons, the more they will drive me toward my goal.

Teamwork – Enlist others to help me achieve my goal. Ask them to encourage and help me along the way, to remind me of why it is important. The important part of this step is to make sure that those whose opinions I value the most – my friends and family -- also value this goal and have a vested interest in helping me reach it. If not, they may unintentionally sabotage my progress.

Items – Make a list of items that will help me achieve my goals and a list of obstacles. For example, if I want to reach a specific weight and if having BBQ potato chips in the house is an obstacle to reaching that goal, then I don’t buy them. If it helps to have grapefruit on hand instead, then I buy them in bulk. I fill my life with items that will help me achieve my goal, and get rid of anything that may stand in the way.

Ongoing – I realize that making a life change will be an ongoing process, and that there will be times that I fail to stay on course. I do not assume that an error one day makes a failure for all time. Instead, when I fail, I will look at it as an opportunity to add an item to my list of do’s or don’ts and to enlist more teamwork.

Now – The key is to begin today – Today, I am sitting down and working toward a solution for my New Year’s resolutions. How about you?

I hope that, this year, your New Year’s resolutions will focus on solutions as well.

And here’s one of my resolutions: next December, I resolve to tell you how I did. Wish me luck.