Resolution, Aspiration or Revolution? – Professional Growth Systems

Resolution, Aspiration or Revolution?

By Andrea Garrels

As the new year picks up steam, I, like many of you, consider how this year might be different from the previous one and what influence I can have on those differences.  I spend a little time with my “New Year’s resolutions”.  How can I change for the better?  What attitudes, actions or habits need some adjusting?  Where do I need some course correction?

As much time as I have spent answering those questions this year, I have also been digging around with the topic of resolutions as a whole.  Why do they have such a bad reputation?  What can I do to shift my thinking about New Year’s resolutions?

Some of the thought leaders in my inbox, books and podcasts have tackled the topic from their various points of view, and I have turned to them for inspiration.  Erwin McManus of Mosaic in LA talks about the “January people” in his Fresh Start message, i.e., those folks who join the gym, buy the workout clothes, eat protein by the bowlful and start the year with tremendous enthusiasm and determination to get in shape.  But the vast majority of “January people” are back home, on the couch with their gym clothes washed and put away by February.  Old habits die hard.

Another, author Sara Ban Breathnach, talks about setting aspirations instead of resolutions. She emphasizes that aspirations are focused on hopes and ambitions and don’t carry the image of slogging through the mud and muck to reach the prize – the image that resolutions often bring. She quotes an interesting article from a 1949 Good Housekeeping magazine stating that our New Year’s resolutions “are made when we are worn out in spirit, body and pocketbook, and have no real urge to do anything but rest.”  Hence, the resolutions fade with a limp and a sigh, and rarely find the finish line.

But to be “resolute” is to be determined, unwavering.  Our track record of failed resolutions has diluted the word from its true meaning. Resolutions hold in them determination, constancy, steadfastness. They have in them the promise and power of real change.  What happened to this resolute spirit, and how do I get it back?

Last week I read a post from Angie Witkowski titled “New Year’s Resolution …or Revolution?” that answered that question. She holds that a resolution is a desire to stop doing something, while a revolution is a focus on creating something, starting something new. I am not sure I fully buy in to her definitions, i.e., I have resolved many times to start something new. What I grabbed onto, instead, was her choice of the word “revolution”.  One of Merriam-Webster’s definitions of revolution is “a fundamental change in the way of thinking about or visualizing something a change of paradigm”. That’s what I need.

I realized in reading and thinking through all these perspectives that my typical New Year’s resolutions, and even the more gentle “aspirations”, tend to dance around my need to make some fundamental changes in my thinking, a paradigm shift or two. Whether I am trying to eat healthier, read more, or clean out the dark corners of our closets, my stoic determination, gritted teeth and “just get it done” attitude rarely is enough.  Like the January people, I wear out by February, sometimes earlier. My resolutions don’t seem to have enough power in them to get me over the hurdles I inevitably place in front of myself.

What I need is a revolution, a fundamental change in the way I see or think about something, a paradigm shift. If I start there, begin to see my eating or my learning or my closets through a new lens, my habits and choices naturally have to shift if they are to align with my new point of view.  I can’t keep a habit that is in direct conflict with my new paradigm. Therefore, the new habits and new behaviors come easier.

OK, maybe it’s all still semantics, but it’s worth trying.  My focus this year is shifting from making determined resolutions, to making some revolutionary paradigm shifts.  I know deep down where my thinking could use a recalibration, and I know where I have put false limits on what I accomplish or strive toward.

How about you?  Where could you use a paradigm shift that would start a positive avalanche of new behaviors and attitudes?  Could you use a revolution or two in your thinking?

And how about your organization? Are there some paradigm shifts that could be made there?  Do you know what they are or how to find them? We have a tool to help you answer those questions.  The Discovery Assessment looks at the deep-seated points of view from the frontline to the C-suite of your organization, then gives you tools to make the needed shifts.  We have found frequently that the CEO holds one paradigm while the great majority of his or her staff see exactly the opposite.  It’s exciting to unearth the paradigms that need changing.  It’s exciting to be a catalyst to that kind of revolution in an organization.  We would love to help you get started.

Want to learn more?  Read about Discovery and check out a sample assessment, then contact us to learn how you can bring a little “revolution” to your organization.