As my Christmas Holidays come to an end and 2012 is only 2 days away, I have come to realise that I never keep my New Year Resolutions. It’s not a startling revelation and I am sure I am definitely not alone. Nevertheless every year I seem to find myself going through this bizarre ritual of telling myself that once the clock ticks past midnight on December 31 that I will henceforth stop doing something I shouldn’t be doing, or start doing something I should be doing….
Over the years I have tried a many resolutions. Often to do with alcohol, coffee, sleep, email, exercise, food, films and family – more or less, shorter or longer, better or funnier. None of it matters though since I never manage to keep any of them.
I have also read articles and books that tell me what I have to do to keep to my resolution and why I don’t. The answers are all quite clear – apparently I have failed so far because ‘I have either suppressed my cravings, fantasized about being successful, have adopted a role model or relied on willpower alone’. Similarly, to succeed all I have to do is ‘to break my resolution into smaller steps, reward myself when I achieve one of these. I should also tell all my friends and colleagues about my resolutions, focus on the benefits of success and keep a diary of my progress’.
In 2012 I am going to drink less alcohol and less coffee, sleep more, write shorter emails, exercise longer, eat better food, watch funnier films and do all of these with my family! I feel better already. I will let you know how I get on in a year’s time!
I also did find myself thinking a little more about what a resolution actually is – a Resolution is a ‘course of action that has been decided on’. There is nothing in here about success, or delivery or achievement. So a New Year’s Resolution is simply a course of action I decide on doing in 2012. No wonder it never works!
What about promises? I always keep my promises. A promise is an assurance given by me to someone else agreeing or guaranteeing to do or give something in the future. Immediately it is apparent to me why I keep promises. Invariably I make promises to family, friends or colleagues – people I care about and who care about me. I only make promises of significance and I only make them to significant people.
And commitments? A commitment is the ‘state of being bound emotionally to a course of action or to another person or persons’. I really like this concept idea of being bound emotionally. There is no way out. There is a sense of both responsibility and accountability. A commitment involves an investment by me in someone else
Commitments are becoming more common. Many compamies and leaders have started to use ‘Commitments’ extensively in both internal and external communications. For example, in November Bill and Melinda Gates reaffirmed their commitment to eradicating malaria within 20 years and Pfizer has recently launched ‘Commitments for a Healthier World’.
So I now realise that I like commitments much more than I do goals – and I am a big advocate of goals. A goal is a purpose toward which effort is directed – and we all certainly put a great deal of effort into achieving our goals. But I just can’t get away from the power of commitments. Commitments based on sound beliefs and supported by consistent behaviour.
Once we make a commitment then everything starts….it just has to. Commitments launch action