I’ve completely given up on setting New Year’s resolutions. Forget it! I’m not going to participate in this annual tradition ever again. Why not? Because I’m an awful resolution-keeper. Seriously, I’m the worst. In fact, I’m so bad at keeping New Year’s resolutions that the end result is often the exact opposite of the resolution.
2010: Lose 20 lbs. <Result: Gained 25 lbs. after eating leftover Christmas treats while filling out my resolution list.>
2011: Plant a garden. <Result: Planter box accidently built over a fire ant nest. All of my seedlings were used as ant food sources and underground birthing stations. That, and my inability to water my young plants more than once per month, probably led to my green thumb shriveling and turning black.>
2012: Learn to play the trombone. <Result: There is wisdom in learning an instrument when we’re young. My over-reliance on the ‘Idiot’s Guide to Playing Brass Instruments’ as my personal tutor probably didn’t help my efforts.>
2013: Cook dinner once per week. <Started well (baked chicken, string bean casserole, dinner rolls, cake). Lasted one week. Now, my kids are back to ramen, cheese crisps, and pbj’s until mom gets home and starts a more balanced and nutritious dinner.>
2014: Post to MMW Every-other Friday: <Uhm…..>
So, I’ve decided to abandon the practice of making resolutions and to set goals instead. What’s the difference, you ask?
A resolution is something you intend to start or stop. It’s myopic in nature; an issue is solved and one move’s on to the next issue; whereas, a goal, by definition, is expansive.
A goal rewards a person for pointing one’s self towards achievement, then moving in the direction of success, and hopefully, finishing one’s expectations if possible. The main difference is that there are micro-successes along the way, as if the journey were more important than the final accomplishment.
Thomas S. Monson, a latter-day Prophet of God, once gave some sage advice regarding three goals that can serve as a reliable framework for all other personal goals (Ensign, Oct. 2007):
1. Study diligently.
2. Pray earnestly.
3. Serve willingly.
While these might seem a little abstract and endless in nature, I noticed that these three goals fit nicely over my previously mentioned resolutions. Take, for example, my resolution in 2011 to have a garden.
I did not take the time to do any real degree of study and research on preparing, building, planting, and caring for a proper garden. I simply built a box, filled it with mulch and fertilizer, dropped a few seeds in, hoped for rain, and sat back and awaited my vegetable bounty to grow. I should have been researching soil preparation for my region, consulted a planting/harvesting matrix for my area, and learned the glories of soaker hoses and proper weeding techniques.
Next, I should make my garden a part of my personal and family prayer, that the Lord will bless our efforts, inspire us to correct errors, and to show gratitude for our bounties in whatever size and shape we might harvest them.
Lastly, I did not serve my resolution to garden. That might sound odd, but like serving a person or a righteous cause, there is a time allotment required. In the case of my garden, I failed to give the appropriate amount of time to watering, weeding, and worrying over my tender starts.
Wow! Those life-structure goals from President Monson can really work.
So, for 2015, I’m setting goals instead of resolutions. I’ll study more diligently what it will take to make the life improvements I hope for; I’ll pray hard for help in making those life improvements; and, I’ll serve more earnestly the people and causes that I should in order to show the Lord that my care for someone or something other than myself is worthy of His care for my hopes and dreams.
Oh, and a fourth ‘goal’ while I’m at it: Do a better job of listening to advice from prophets.