We are less than a week into the New Year and I’m wondering how many people have already failed to keep their resolutions?
I boarded that train of thought last week, after reading a tweet from the Rev. Bernice King (youngest child of civil rights leaders Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King):
Don’t make New Year’s resolutions.
Determine what kind of everyday human you want to be. And decide if that human will be for goodness, justice, peace, and love.
And envision if that human has dreams that will lift humanity.
Then the moments, years, and minutes will matter.
Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against making New Year’s resolutions. In fact, I am all for anything that causes us to pause and reflect on the steps we can take to better ourselves.
Studies, however, show that about a third of resolutions do not make it past the first month. Some research indicates that one factor contributing to this failure is that, on average, it takes approximately 66 days to kick a bad habit or adopt a good one. Another factor cited is that New Year’s resolutions tend to focus on substantial changes down the road – like quitting smoking, losing weight, saving more money, getting organized, finding love, getting and staying healthy, etc. — rather than on small changes in the here and now.
I think I like Bernice King’s idea of determining what kind of everyday human you want be because it forces us to deal with the present and focus on our intentions (while New Year’s resolutions are typically about a future goal). Her suggestion obligates us to engage in mindfulness – to pay attention to our inner thoughts and feelings, to become grounded in our purpose, and to make a choice about our daily intentions.
Like I said before, there is absolutely nothing wrong with establishing future goals (through New Year’s resolutions). But if we combine goals with intention, we can find balance between future and present and – perhaps more importantly – between heart and mind (goals tend to be a product of the mind and intentions tend to come from the heart).
As we are drawn by the promise of a fresh start this year, why not embrace both mind-based goals and heart-centered intentions?