This time of year, you can’t hardly open a browser without stumbling over lots of great advice about how to make New Year’s resolutions stick—stuff like keeping the steps toward an ultimate goal SMART, which stands for, depending on what source you rely on, small/simple/specific, measurable/meaningful, actionable/attainable, realistic/rewarding, and time-based/trackable—OK, so if we can’t even agree to what SMART stands for, how doomed are we at setting those goals, much less achieving them?
I know, any excuse will do, right? I gave up on making New Year’s resolutions eons ago anyway, probably about the time when I realized that, no matter how much yoga I do, my days of being able to do a split probably are over. And who needs the guilt, along with the bill for the gym you don’t go to anymore by the time February rolls around, or the Weight Watchers meetings you just can’t quite find time for, or whatever your personal guilt-inducers might be.
But even as I stare down the bitter back end of the wretched beast that was 2016—really, did we have to close out the year by losing George Michael, Carrie Fisher, and Debbie Reynolds on top of David Bowie, Glenn Frey, Abe Vigoda, Maurice White, Edgar Mitchell, Antonin Scalia, Harper Lee, Umberto Eco, Pat Conroy, Nancy Reagan, Garry Shandling, Merle Haggard, Prince, Morley Safer, Muhammad Ali, Elie Weisel, Garry Marshall, Gene Wilder. Edward Albee, Janet Reno, Shimon Peres, Leon Russell, Gwen Ifill, Florence Henderson, Fidel Castro, John Glenn, and Zsa Zsa Gabor, along with many, many more famous and everyday, much-beloved people—I can’t give up hope on 2017.
Don't get me wrong—I know change will come, and I won't be happy about all of it. In 2017, we are bound to be more blessed, and cursed, than ever along the lines of that old adage, “May you live in interesting times.” We will lose more people we love, admire, or just know from so many years of exposure to them that the world seems a little weirder without them in it. Fallout from the bizarre presidential election process will have repercussions both within and without the U.S. I have no doubt that our wildly unpredictable PEOTUS and his cabinet picks will bring more changes, and quickly—whether that’s for the better or for the worse depends on your world view, but the days of politics as usual are firmly in the rear-view mirror. Technology, the economy, neuroscience, and new ideas will continue to change how we meet. Who knows, 2017 may even be the year we kill the RFP.
Changes are coming whether we lose that 10 pounds or quit smoking or spend more time with our families in that SMART way we resolved to do. So why bother, really? With so much change that's bound to happen, what's a few resolutions going to do to help us cope with it all?
But before I gave up completely on the idea of making promises to do what I can to improve myself and the world around me in the next 12 months, I read this piece of wisdom on Seth Godin’s blog:
“Intention opens the door to forward motion.”
Where resolutions seem to put up more roadblocks than on-ramps for so many of us, intentions lead us forward. That just sounds right to me.
So forget resolutions—I am setting some intentions that I hope will help me make it through whatever changes 2017 may bring, possibly even as a better version of my 2016 self. Among them, I intend to:
• Keep my eyes and my mind open to new ideas—especially those with which I have a knee-jerk bad reaction to
• Listen with full and undivided attention
• Fill my heart with gratitude for all the amazing things life gives me (and that I all too often take for granted)
• Examine my actions and behaviors to surface unconscious biases so that I at least will know why I act and believe the way I do
• Do things that scare me (OK, within reason anyway!)
• Set my default to kindness
• Assume others’ intentions are positive, even if their actions may not appear to be according to my world view
• Be open and receptive to new opportunities instead of getting so deep into my rut that I can’t see them when they pop onto the horizon
• Fight for what’s right, even—or especially—when it is not what’s easy
What are your intentions for our bouncing baby 2017?