The dictionaries world over, define ‘Resolution’ as an act of solving a problem or finding a way to improve a difficult situation. Primarily ‘a statement of intent, a view undertaken by an individual or a body of people to change the state of things or turn the status quo,’ resolutions can mean different things to different people. Are you making a resolution in this New Year? Warning:--More than half of all the resolutions fail, but then have a heart this year of 2023 they don’t have to be yours. According to ‘Time management firm Franklin covey’ 1/3 of all resolutions don’t make it past the end of January. A lot of these resolutions fail because they are not the right resolutions. As per Franklin Covey nearly 40% of those surveyed attribute breaking these resolutions to having too many other things to do, while 33% say they simply are not committed to the resolutions they set. But experts say the real problem is that people make wrong resolutions as mentioned above.
The typical resolution often reflects a general desire, but albeit missing the ‘Fire for desire’. A resolution may be wrong for any of these three reasons:-
- Is it a resolution created based on what someone else (or society) is telling you to change? Where are you in this change? Do you really desire a change? What is that which has goaded you to change? Are your inner desires to change and change management co-terminus?
- It is too vague.
- You don’t have a realistic plan for achieving your resolution.
The above breakdown of a resolution takes me back to my study leave days at the ‘Pune University’ more than a decade ago while enrolling for my MBA degree when still in army service. The HOD(Head of department ) of our MBA department an ex-army officer said in so many words in his first address to us---work and study splitting our goals in a ‘SMART’ manner unquote’. The word ‘SMART’ is an acronym coined in the journal ‘Management review 1981” as S-Smart, M-measurable, A-achievable, R-relevant and T-time bound. It may work for our management studies, but it can also work in setting your resolutions too. Endeavour of mine in this write up will be not to just rattle out a slew of New Year resolutions, but delineate a very methodical way of analyzing these resolutions and trying to fit these among our personae. The acronym of S.M.A.R.T. has been made a template with each 5 words encompassing a world of way forward to make and keep our resolutions for posterity.
Your resolutions should be absolutely clear. Making a concrete New Year resolution is really important than just saying vaguely –‘I want to lose weight or I want to quit smoking this year. How much weight do you want to lose and at what time interval? How soon do you want to quit smoking? Do you want to quit smoking reducing your cigarette intakes on daily basis or do you want to quit it lock stock and barrel in one go. Taking a leaf from my own experience I dare say that I quit the pernicious habit of smoking which I continued even at the formidable heights of Siachen glacier many years ago despite medical advice in one single swoop at a place called as CPE Itarsi goaded by my daughter. A habit of 26 years was let go when you are resolute in your resolutions. Specificity in any goal makes us more focused and committed. As per ‘Katherine.L’ an associate professor of ‘Operations, information and decision’ at the ‘Wharton school’ of the University of Pennsylvania, our brain processes specifics of a task in a much more faster and efficient manner. Hence the reason to be more specific in our New Year resolutions borne out of our deep commitment to the cause of the resolution as such.
This may seem obvious if your goal is fitness or weight loss related one, but it’s also important if you are trying to cut back on something too. Taking a cue from the above ‘S’ aspect of S.M.A.R.T. regarding cutting back on cigarette intake if for example you want to check your success on the chart of ‘Measurable’ index then take pictures of your consumption of cigarettes in a particular day over time so that you can keep on course on your cherished goal. As per Jeffrey Gardere, a psychologist and professor at Touro college of Ostopathic medicine most of the people inadvertently carry their childhood habit of biting their nails well into their adulthood too. The same tactics of measurable index can be applied here too in case if you make a New Year resolution to stop this habit. All you have to do is to take a picture of your nails over time so that you can track your progress in how these nails grow back out. Logging progress into a journal or even in your personal diary or making notes on your mobile phone or in an app designed to help you track behaviors’ can reinforce the progress in a realistic manner ,no matter what your resolution may be. A cursory look now and then in your diary will certainly boost your morale to make progress in the right direction.
Having set our hearts and minds to go the whole hog to attain our New Year resolutions taking into cognizance the twin cogs of specificity and measurability, it is time now to lay focus on the achievability factor just in case to ascertain if these resolutions are within our realm to accomplish? That doesn’t mean that you can’t have big stretch goals. But trying to take too big a step too fast can leave you frustrated, or affect your areas of life to the point that your resolutions can leave you drained out and takes over your life ---and both your friends and family flail. Taking a cue from the financial aspect, resolving to save enough money to retire in 5 years when you are 30 years old is probably not realistic, but saving an extra thousand rupees over and above your stated savings every month may be. With that being easily achievable without putting yourself under the lens of financial liability, you can easily scale up the saving numbers as per your comfort level.
Is this a goal that really matters to you and are you making it for the right reasons? Well if you do it out of the sense of self –hate or remorse or a strong passion in that moment, it doesn’t usually last long and may peter out sooner than later. As per Dr Michael Bennett, a psychiatrist and co-author of 2 self-help books if you build up a process where you are thinking harder about what is good for you, then you are changing the structure of your life. Combined with this facet will dawn a realization upon you to surround yourself with people who will reinforce your belief in your resolutions. Relevance of goals and resolutions will be the second step towards achieving your objectives, with the first being to believe in yourself. With self-belief everything else falls in place.
Like ‘Achievable’ the timeline towards reaching your goal should be realistic too. That means giving yourself enough time to do it with lots of smaller intermediate goals set up along the way. Focus on these small wins so that you can make gradual progress. The power of habit is one of such supreme power which moulds all other habits in its wake. A cursory glance on the above mentioned tenets of maintaining a New year resolution shows that all the 4 previous facets revolve around the last one i.e. ‘Time bound’. Time is the essence in such resolutions since with time rest all other tenets fall into place.
It goes without saying that ultimately it is the sagacity of an individual how he or she proceeds with the making of New Year resolutions and following them with a resolute action to be of some value, off course keeping in mind these above mentioned points. AS Brad Paisely has rightly said ----Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write it well---unquote.
(The writer is a retired army officer and a regular scribe of Rising Kashmir)