Saturday, January 7, 2012

Resolutions, shared, more powerful

Woody Guthrie's resolutions for 1942 have been making the rounds for a few weeks. In case you didn't see them, they go like this.  I love that they're handwritten, along with doodles, at the middle of the book, and include beating fascism and wearing clean clothes.

It got me to thinking about how interesting it would be to see certain people's resolutions at key moments in their lives.  These people wouldn't necessarily know at the moment they wrote their resolutions that the coming year would turn out to be key, but with the benefit of hindsight, we'd all go, Duuuuuude, that was so prescient.  Like, for example, if Rosa Parks had it as a resolution in 1954 to change up her seat on the bus.  I'm making light of a huge thing she did, in fun, just to illustrate what I'm talking about.

I did a very fast search on Amazon and nothing turned up, so a book of resolutions hasn't been done yet.  Who wants to take that on?  Of course, it's now on my List of all the books I wish I had time to write, but until someone decides that they want to sponsor me so that I can devote myself 24/7 to this and other projects such as my field guide to the American Douche, then this blog is about it.

So, given my interest in reading other people's resolutions, natch I was very intrigued when I received email from Daily Candy earlier today, with the following tease:

It was definitely a let-down that clicking through just lands one on a slide-show of things the editors plan to buy this year to support their resolutions (although I won't lie: there are a couple of items that I fell immediately in love with, like the magnetic egg-cup train and the self-publishing kiosk and the espresso machine).  But still I liked this smidgen of insight.  Like I wrote elsewhere, I love hearing about other people's resolutions -- such a quick hit of what that person really cares about, really wants, like you're mainlining their essence for a sec.  

The Harvard Business Review blogger Peter Bregman had a really interesting bit in an interview that I listened to yesterday, about how most people don't keep their resolutions because  their fear of failure prevents them from making resolutions about the things they really, really care about.  Like you don't want to make a resolution that "this is the year I write my novel," because if you fail, then it means you're not really a writer.  And that scares you.  So you don't make that resolution; instead you resolve something that doesn't go straight to your heart, to your idea of who you really are, like the novel does.  Instead you resolve something about not biting your nails or being friendlier to strangers.  Something you don't really care about and which you can let go, in a few weeks, when your favorite show finally comes back on or whatever.

The key to success, Bregman says, is to make resolutions about things you really do care about.  And then to keep those resolutions right in front of your nose, integrating them into what you do every day, so that they don't exist in a separate dimension apart from your daily transactions.

For me, another key is sharing what your resolutions are, so that you're more accountable.  Saying them out loud makes them more powerful, give them form.  Volume gives them volume, ho ho ho.  But I'm kind of a weirdo who dreams of friendships in which we share things like this, things like our resolutions for the year, and then have lunch once a month and talk about how it's going.  That's my idea of dreamy: a Saturday lunch with friends and notebooks, maybe a glass of something sparkly and a tasty plate of food, listening and cheering and dreaming.  That would be sweet, indeed, and so real, so much better than catching up on details, details we can all read about on-line anyway.

As I'm completing my resolutions project for this year, I'm really taking Bregman's words into account -- really making sure that I am resolving about things that truly matter to me, that have the potential to be life-changing.  Sure, there's always the nest-egg resolution but what about the rest, the really juicy stuff?  What about the book?  What about getting paid to write?  

It's about keeping the map on the dashboard, just staying focused on what you really want.  And who doesn't need help with that?  By sometime in the middle of next week, I'll be posting my resolutions here, as a way of giving them volume.  And if you want to email me your list, I'm so your Resolution Buddy.  

Let's Go Big this year.  It's time.


1 comment:

Susanna Harwood Rubin said...

I think your idea for a book is great!It is such an issue for people - that fear of failure with one's new year's resolutions so why get ambitious with them. I agree with your idea about writing a variety - some of which will be easy to achieve & others that will be more challenging. Odds are, not ALL of them will be achieved, but some will & with the more elusive ones, we can be doing the yoga of trying :-)