Create Transformational Resolutions

Create Transformational Resolutions

I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live.
That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.

(Eccl 3:12-13)

The New Year ushers in a tidal wave of transformational hopes and dreams.  We commonly refer to them as resolutions; these are commitments to change areas of our lives that feel stuck or in need of direction. Typically, three areas are ground-zero for change: spirit, mind and body.   This year, “I will spend more time reading the Bible, praying, going to church” or, “I will read more, make friends, volunteer” or, “I will lose weight, get fit, get serious about a chronic disease.”

The practice of committing to change at the start of the year dates back thousands of years.  The Babylonians returned borrowed objects and paid their debts, the Romans began each year by making promises to their gods, and during the Medieval era, the knights re-affirmed their commitment to chivalry.

With so many of us making promises, commitments, and pledges, the likelihood of success is assured, right?  Actually, according to several studies, we tend to achieve our goals only about 8-10% of the time.  Despite our belief in our success (65% believe that this year will be different), defeat overtakes most of us by March. Some of us start knowing that we will not fulfill our commitments. This tweet was posted in late December: “I have like nine New Year’s resolutions and I’ve already mentally given up on about six of them.” That’s a lot of honesty here.   At the Y, we see thousands come in fully dedicated to make a change; our January membership swells but by March we are back to “normal.”  

So how do we make commitments that STICK, join the 10%, and help our friends do the same?  How do we make this a transformational crossroad? Three tips come to mind:

1. Reject Transactional Commitments.  When resolutions are based solely on transactional merits, “giving up” is easy when an expectation is not met: “I will exercise to lose weight” (I will stop if I don’t: Transactional) verses, “I will exercise because it is good for me” (Transformational).

2. Go With Others.  A commitment made as a group is more likely kept because of shared accountability and group support.  We are relational beings and we tend to reach goals when we are working as a team. Lone wolves fail, repeatedly.

3.  Merge Your Goals.  Significant transformation happens when all three areas of our being are engaged.  
Create one or two spirit, mind and body goals, instead of 10 individual goals (examples): 

  • I will spend time with God while working out with friends I make in a fitness class.   
  • I will go to church, eat healthy and volunteer on Sundays.
  • I will pray for my friends who are learning to cope with an illness and ask them to do the same for me.

Two facts are true: we are designed to make goals and failure is not our norm.  In 2018, let’s make this New Year transformational! #GoBeTheY

Happy New Year!

Jorge Perez
President & CEO
YMCA of Greater Cincinnati