Resolve To Not Resolve

Didn’t make any New Year’s Resolutions last year. Won’t this year either. And this is from a guy that used to make them regularly.

More than this, I encourage you to join me. And I hold out a strange hope that you might find yourself achieving even MORE of your goals/resolutions if you do…er, don’t.

About this time last year, I read this interesting little blog from Derek Sivers. Derek is the founder of CDBaby, and an all-around fascinating guy.

The gist is here:

“Tests done since 1933 show that people who talk about their intentions are less likely to make them happen.
Announcing your plans to others satisfies your self-identity just enough that you’re less motivated to do the hard work needed.

Interesting, huh?

The psychology is like this:
— You resolve to be a runner.
— You tell everybody.
— You do out and buy running shoes.
— You admire your new shoes, and your brain says “HEY! I’m a runner.”
— You never, or rarely, ever do actual running.

Here’s Sivers’ TED talk:

I can tell you from my own life this most definitely works.

I won’t go into too many details, because then I’d been doing what I said I wouldn’t (making resolutions public…).

But this last year, I made significant progress on several things that have been part of my long-term “life to do” list; the kinds of things that almost always found their way onto a list of previous New Year’s Resolutions, only to remain undone at the end of the next year.

It doesn’t mean you don’t constantly work to achieve your goals. You do. You must.

But in a pretty literal way, Nike was right. Doing means a whole lot more than talking about doing. Holding an intention or thought in your brain, and doing something real/tangible in the world, are two different things.

Sometimes, talking prevents us from doing. It give us the satisfaction that we’ve already done something. Or, if we fail to do something, it gives us the guilt of failure.

How does it work? Not really sure, beyond what Sivers suggests here. But my guess is it’s related to this…

Have goals, for sure. Just keep some part of making them private…interior. Pray them to God. Meditate on them. Think about them all the time. Just don’t talk them to death, and go around announcing them to everyone.

Especially for professional talkers/communicators, there’s always the potential to overshare. (Yes, I’m talking about me. Yes, I know, this applies to Facebook).

We all need interior space. A place to connect with our deepest selves. For us introverts, we need a place to recharge our batteries. There is a powerful resolve that can come from inner intention, not shared, not publicized, not done with external fanfare or hoopla.

Focusing on a daily inner intention appears to be more powerful than making public, or outer, ones. At least it does in my life.

So, no resolutions again this year.
Just action.
Just doing, day by day, in a way that is gentle on myself when I fail.

It works.

Try it.

Just do it.

UPDATE 2013: This year, I’ve written a new blog called “Follow Your Heartbreak,” soon to be a sermon series at Northaven. It’s an alternative way to move toward your life’s passions, without the traditional “resolutions” trap.

(As always, if you like this post, then “share it” or “like” it on Facebook by clicking the box below, so others can see too…)

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Eric Folkerth is a minister, musician, author and blogger. He is Senior Pastor of Kessler Park UMC United Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas. Previously, he was pastor at Northaven UMC in Dallas for seventeen years. Eric loves to write on topics of spirituality, social justice, music/art and politics. The entries on this blog reflect that diversity of interests. His passion for social justice goes beyond mere words. He’s been arrested at the White House, defending immigrants and “The Dreamers,” and he’s officiated at same sex weddings in his churches, in defiance of what some believe is Methodist teaching. Eric is an avid blogger and published author, and 2017 recipient of the prestigeous Kuchling Humanitarian Award from Dallas’ Black Tie Dinner. (Human Rights Campaign) Eric has led or co-led hundreds of persons on mission trips around the globe, to places such as Mexico, Haiti, Russia, and Nepal. He has worked with lay persons to build ten homes, and one Community Center, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Dallas. He’s a popular preacher, and often tackles challenging issues of social justice in his writings and sermons. His wife, Judge Dennise Garcia, is a State District Judge for Dallas, County. As judge of the 303rd Family District Court, she consistently gets high ratings from area lawyers, and was named “best judge” by The Dallas Observer. First elected in 2004, she was the first Latina ever elected to a county-wide bench in Dallas County, and is currently the longest service district judge in that district. She was re-elected for a fourth term in 2018. They have the world’s best daughter, Maria, and an incredible dog, Daisy. Find links to Eric’s music-related websites, at the top of this site’s navigation menu.

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