Here’s Why I’m Choosing Resolve Instead of New Year’s Resolutions

Welcome to the new year—and the new decade, for that matter! If you follow popular wisdom, you’ve probably spent some time reflecting on the past ten years, planning for the next and, most likely, making lots of resolutions.

To be perfectly honest, I don’t really believe in resolutions. But I do believe in resolve. Is there a difference? Well, there is to me.

Resolve is committing to something wholeheartedly. It means you’ve considered the options and decided to commit to an outcome. On the other hand, resolutions are promises we make to ourselves, and maybe others, to either do or refrain from doing something. One requires commitment, while the other requires promise.

So, if I resolve to live a life full of joy, my resolution may be to take an hour every week to focus on something that brings me joy.

When we decide to commit to an outcome, we leave open many possible paths to achieve that goal. Living a life of joy, for example, could be accomplished in a number of ways—we can give freely to others, live more compassionately, look for small things each day that make us smile, or do small things each day that make others smile. You could even choose to do any one of these events each day and still meet your goal.

Resolutions, however, tie us to an act. The reality is that a very small percentage of people actually achieve their New Year's resolutions—less than ten percent, in fact. However, that should be obvious. How full is that yoga class the first couple weeks of January versus how many there are at the end of February? It’s not because people don’t want to achieve those goals, but sometimes, no matter how hard we try, life gets in the way of achieving what we set out to accomplish. And when we fail to keep our resolutions, there can be a real sense of failure (“I didn’t even make it one week with my resolution!”). But resolving means we are striving each day to meet the goal, and, in my mind at least, recognizes that some days we’re better at working towards that goal than other days. That’s not a failure, that’s being human.

Resolve means that we get up when we get knocked down, we forgive ourselves, try again, and realize that each day is a new opportunity.

I’m not making any resolutions this year, but I’m resolving to:

  1. Show compassion to myself and those I encounter
  2. Find joy in each day, even the hard ones where nothing seems to break my way
  3. Love as fully as I can, and make sure those closest to me feel that love each day
  4. See setbacks as progress, even when they feel like anything but
  5. Eliminate the noise and embrace the silence.


So, what will it be for you this year? Resolutions, or resolve?


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