Commentary: Resolutions are commitment to failure unless you chart your course for success

Ah, the turning of the calendar page into a new year.

Resolution time.

Which, if you fall into most majority statistical profiles, means this is the time of year that we set ourselves up for failure.

For most of us, New Year’s resolutions are nothing more than desires. They are a wish list without a road map. They are goals without a process.

According to the Huffington Post, only 8 percent of us succeed with this annual ritual called New Year’s resolutions. Business Insider reports that 80 percent of us will fail at this exercise in commitment by February.

A local pastor in the Verde Valley once described plans, goals and resolutions as a road map to a destination. A legendary Arizona distance running coach once said that goals are nothing more than the byproduct of a clearly defined process.

For most of us, though, New Year’s resolutions are nothing more than desires. They are a wish list without a road map. They are goals without a process.

So, if you only make one resolution for 2018, start by re-wiring your brain so that you clearly understand exactly what a resolution is.

For many of us, the resolution of losing weight and exercising is first on our list every year. It comes up every year because it’s that nagging reminder that we failed miserably at the same resolution a year ago. It’s the classic example of desire without a road map.

I’m a classic case in point on this one. In my mid-50s, I made losing weight and exercising my New Year’s Resolution and I actually had some success only because I had a clearly defined plan on how I was going to succeed. It was a commitment to run 1,000 miles every year, which in truth sounds more impressive than the reality of accomplishing the task. When you do the math it comes out to less than 20 miles a week. I had success with that formula and so I re-committed to it every year over the next five years and chalked up 1000 miles with every cycle of a new calendar.

And then I started taking it for granted, assuming it would continue to happen without the same annual recommitment; without the same attention to the detail of running 20 miles a week. In 2016, I finished the year with 746 miles, a meager 14 miles a week, and 2017 has been even worse, 717 miles.

So, I’m going to change the formula, challenge myself in a new way, and demand a new level of accountability for myself. The 2018 resolution is to run at least 1,000 miles, but more importantly to run every single day and put together a streak of 365 consecutive days of running. I’ve already joined a Facebook group of folks from around the country who are embarking on the same resolution come Monday. We all have the same goal, and we all plan to hold each other accountable. It also helps that I have someone in the community to emulate, an example that provides assurance I’m not biting off more than I can chew. As of today, Cottonwood’s Jason Finger will complete four years of daily running, 1,461 consecutive days of at least 1 mile, for a grand total of 3,647 miles.

Top that!

Many folks embark on a new year with aspirations of discovering their artistic side, or at least finding out if that side even exists. Do it. Take an art class or go buy a musical instrument and fork over some cash for music lessons. If you doubt your artistic or musical acumen, do it anyway. Dedication and perseverance trumps talent every time.

Or, let’s say you want the coming year to be one in which you make an investment in your community. Go volunteer at the Old Town Mission in Cottonwood, the Bread of Life Mission in Camp Verde or the Verde Valley Humane Society Adopt for Life center. Do it once or twice a week for a year. Take on a service role at your church. Volunteer at the library. Serve meals at the Senior Center. Take some classes at Yavapai College.

Whatever it is, make a road map of your own personal destination and complete the course. Define the process and stick with it. Demand an accountability process for your task.

A year from now ask yourself if it was worth it.

Many years ago, Bob Dylan said that “He not busy being born is busy dying.”

Make 2018 a year of rebirth.

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