Is it just me, or is a year shorter than it used to be? Another New Year’s Eve has appeared on the calendar – sneaking up on us just as we were finally getting comfortable with 2011. And of course with another New Year comes another round of New Year’s resolutions. On formal spreadsheets, backs of envelopes, or just via mental note, most of us create lists of promises to ourselves to change our behaviors, modify our life styles, expand our minds, flatten our stomachs, spend more time with our loved ones, while transforming ourselves into absolute business powerhouses through improving our own exutive presence. I know I do it every year – make that long list of my strategic growth to make the New Year a real winner.
But “going to do” is an interesting phrase. It certainly can convey a real sense of commitment, an ironclad personal guarantee, as in “This is something I am absolutely going to do!”
It can, however, have a very different meaning. It can be a mechanism for delay, for putting off those things that you really should be doing. I’m "going to do it” is a promise of future action –I’m “going to do it” after I finish what I am doing now, or tomorrow, or next week, or if and when I remember it at some point in the future. And the longer our intended actions remain future intentions, the less likely that we will actually do anything at all. Isn’t that what often happens with our resolutions – our “going to do’s”?
Planning is a useful and meaningful exercise in almost every sphere of human life, but there is greater value in doing. As I am regularly reminding my kids (now young adults), “Yeah Dad, I am (or was) going to do it” isn’t the same as “Dad, I’ve done it!”
At Bates we express this concept a bit differently –
Plan the Intention --> Schedule the Intention --> Honor the Intention
So as we yet again make out our newest self-renewal plans for the year ahead, let’s think about what we really are prepared to DO, what intentions we will truly honor -- not everything we convince ourselves we should be doing. Let’s throw out the long lists that require a spreadsheet to categorize and track. How about making just four resolutions, set just four goals for the year, and focus our energies and efforts on tackling those four – maybe one a quarter?
When we succeed, my guess is that we will feel we have actually accomplished something, actually made a difference that looks and feels real to us. And we will be ready when 2013 rolls around to face the challenges and opportunities of that New Year with greater confidence and enthusiasm.
Happy New Year!