If you could craft your own 'Life Story' what would you write? On January 1, each one of us is given the gift of a clean slate, a new page on which we can begin to write the next chapter in our lives. So, what will it be? Will life in the New Year be dominated by the personal and professional 'In Box'? Will our days be driven by all the 'stuff', all the many things that the universe throws at us each day, the things over which we can exert minimal control, but are important responsibilities nonetheless.
A better, more proactive, alternative approach is to make a firm decision today to pursue one positive dream, resolution and daily goals (Daily Resolves) that bring joy, fulfillment and reward. The 'In Box' will continue to overflow and tasks will be tackled one by one. We have no control over what lands in the 'In Box', but we can work to shape and mold our dreams, resolutions and Daily Resolves (goals), if we so choose.
Why not pursue a dream, resolution and Daily Resolves (goals) with passion, patience and persistence in the coming year? Why not be courageous, strong and committed? The start of a new year is a wonderful symbolic opportunity - one of 365 opportunities - to seize the day and put an end to the 'Someday, Someday, Someday Syndrome'. It is time to 'go for it'! If you are hungry for positive change and achievement in your life, but uncertain how to begin, or on which resolution to focus - start by doing a bit of daydreaming. Put on your thinking cap and mull your options. One of my favorite creative exercises is to hit my favorite coffee house with my journal in hand, and these questions:
- What are the 100 things that I would love to do, be, see, feel, experience, create, achieve, learn, try, change, or have in my life . . . more than anything in this world? What 100 things would enable me to write a rewarding, joyful life story full of happiness and achievement? Every New Year I ponder this question, and periodically review and update my list throughout the the year. The list becomes a living document that changes over time, as I learn and grow, experience highs and lows, victories and defeats. Crossing things off the list and adding others is part of the growth process - life and all the changes that it brings day-to-day. So, don't worry if your list gets messy. What is important is that you start today. Create your own Lifetime Resolution List. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Even if you only partially achieve your cherished dreams - your resolutions and Daily Resolves - you will be a lot farther along in your life story, than if you didn't try at all.
- As you create your list, consider this question as well: If I had all the time, skills, knowledge, money, opportunity, and support in the world, what would I do? No holds barred: List everything large and small, significant and insignificant, realistic, or seemingly unrealistic. This is an exercise in dreaming large, daring to dream the impossible dream, and opening one's mind to all the wonderful possibilities. Below, I provide a snapshot, in no particular order, of things that I strive to incorporate into my daily life, things that I want to do (or in many cases already do, as Lifetime Resolutions) and things that I want to be, see, feel, experience, create, achieve, learn, try, change, or have in days, months and years to come . . . It is not exhaustive and doesn't include a complete listing of accomplishments (though I strongly urge folks to periodically review accomplishments, as a method of inspiring future successes).
When I put pen to paper and draft, or update, my 'Lifetime Resolution List' - my top resolutions, dreams and daily goals have always jumped from the paper. Every year I have far more resolutions than I can realistically tackle. I am careful not to bite off more than I can chew. To do otherwise is a recipe for disaster. In 2008, for instance, my resolution was to show my gratitude for all that I have and all that I am by giving back in four areas of my life: 1) Walk 60 miles for the Washington, DC Breast Cancer 3-Day and raise $3000. 2) Volunteer at a Virginia Horse Rescue Farm. 3) Learn more about how to combat Global Warming and take action! 4) Engage in PreMeditated Acts Of Kindness. I achieved 90% of my goals and plan to work to complete the rest in the coming year, along with a brand new list of dreams, resolutions and daily goals. My gratitude theme and resolutions to 'give back' continue to this day, I am fully committed.
I don't presume to suggest what you should do in the coming year. No one knows better than you what dreams simmer like embers in your heart and mind. If you want to quit smoking, I can't tell you to do it, or if it is time. You have to make that decision. If you want to get a new job, it is up to you to build a strategy and take action. If you want to go back to school, write a novel, get fit, cultivate healthy eating habits, volunteer time to a good cause, be kind . . . it is up to you to 'resolve' and follow through to make those dreams a reality.
Bottom Line: When it comes to dreams, resolutions and Daily Resolves, each one of us typically possesses pretty good emotional, intellectual and 'gut' instincts about what is right, and what we truly want to 'do and achieve' (a personal compass that guides us in the right direction if we are willing to observe where it is pointing). What is important is to choose something about which we have enormous desire, interest and passion - something that offers challenge, excitement, joy, and fulfillment
If a particular goal or dream is on your mind all the time; or if a resolution lingers on your 'To Do List' for a long time - it is possible that you have been afraid to pursue the dream, or because you simply can't give up on it. That dream, resolution, or goal, is on your your list for a reason. And I am not talking about that 'tired' list of 20 resolutions that revelers draft out of obligation each New Year's Eve because they feel they 'should change'. I am talking about a dream about which your have great passion, enthusiasm and desire, but perhaps lack the courage to make the time, and show the conviction and determination that is necessary to make it a reality!
As a 'serial goal-setter', I many years ago created a 'Lifetime Resolution List' - a list of dreams, resolutions, and goals, large and small, that I would love to achieve/fulfill in my lifetime. I am realistic about my list. Some dreams may never happen. My time is finite on this earth. A person can only do so much in one lifetime. Some dreams drop off my list and are replaced by others as I grow, learn, age, and change. But success does breed success. If you want to achieve daily goals of all shapes and sizes, it is useful to know 'what they are, why you want to achieve them, when you are going to achieve them, and how you are going to achieve them'.
I believe with my heart and soul in that old adage, 'Do What You Love. Love What You Do.' It is one of my core motto's. In 2009, I decided to chronicle my journey toward fulfilling dreams, resolutions and Daily Resolves with the I Resolve To . . . Challenge: 365 Resolutions For Health & Happiness. They say a picture is worth a thousand words and I decided it was time to tell my own story through pictures and words. It is a unique vantage point, much the same as the vantage point that is shared by the Resolutionistas that I have inducted into the Resolutionista Hall of Fame - people who passionately pursue their dreams, resolutions and Daily Resolves. To see my personal 'Health & Happiness Tapestry', click through my 2009-2011 Photo-Resolutions, each one documents my journey toward greater health and happiness and is a living, breathing history some of my 'Lifetime Resolutions' . . .
My Lifetime Resolution List - A Wonderful Work In Progress (Many done, many works in progress!):
- Write best-selling non-fiction books that are a mix of words and photos (Work In Progress!)
- Write best-selling Calendars, E-Books and Audio Books (Work In Progress!).
- Help others to achieve their dreams, resolutions and Daily Resolves (Check - On-Going!).
- Maintain my physical fitness through daily 20/30/60-minute work outs - Walk, Bike, Swim, Weights, Gardening - (Check - On-Going!).
- Get into the best physical shape of my life, exercise regularly (Working On It!)
- Maintain a healthy diet filled with fiber, grains, fresh fruits and vegetables (Check, On-Going, though I slip up sometimes but get back on the routine!).
- Maintain a life based on honesty, generosity, kindness, hard work, creativeness, passion, determination, organization, discipline, faith, hope, and integrity (Check - On-Going!).
- Enjoy the journey - today - instead of looking to the future, the destination and promote mindfulness through meditation and Yoga (Check - On-Going!).
- Make more time for rest, reading, relaxation, and hobbies (Check - On-Going!).
- Pay off all debt, including my house, and save money for a rainy day and retirement (Working On It, Long-Term Project!).
- Grow old with my soul mate (I'm growing old-er; still open to finding my soul mate ;)
- Write a best-selling novel (I have one sitting in a desk drawer and another one plotted!).
- Play tennis several times each week (Tennis is my favorite sport - plan to get back to it!).
- Learn to play golf.
- Spice up my wardrobe (Check - On-Going!).
- Clean and organize my house and keep it that way (Check - On-Going!).
- Simplify my life (Check - On-Going!).
- Stop buying 'stuff' - I have enough (Check And Double Check!!).
- Meet new friends who share my interests in writing, the arts, music, animals, books, sports, gardening, and politics (Check - On-Going!).
- Give back to the community, both via time and money and show daily gratitude (Check - On-Going!).
- Travel to Italy and Greece - learn to speak Italian (Working On Learning Italian for 2012 Transatlantic Cruise From Rome - 15 Days - Check, So Happy!!).
- Travel to London and Spain (Check: Barcelona, Malaga, Seville/Cadiz, Cartagena, Tenerife/Canary Islands, Lisbon Portugal)
- Travel to Paris in the Spring.
- Travel to Egypt, cruise the Nile.
- Run or walk marathon(s) - the 60-mile Breast Cancer 3-Day counts (2008 & 2009 & 2013) - (Check! Continue To Train!) [Served As Camp Services Captain in 2010-2011, possibly 2012]
- Learn more advanced Yoga (Fits & Starts).
- Read more books - at least one, or two, each month (Check - On-Going!)
- Adopt kittens and a dog (Check - Three Kittens In 2010! Looove Them!).
- Travel to the Grand Canyon as part of a cross-country road trip.
- Visit all 50 U.S. States (Check - On-Going Work In Progress).
- Publish best-selling books of my photographs ((Work In Progress - This Is Big Goal 2012-2015)..
- Publish best-selling calendars of my photos, and I Resolve To . . . strategies (Work In Progress - This Is Big Goal 2012-2014).
- See my photos hanging in museums while I am still alive (Dream Large, Small Steps!).
- Master Adobe Photoshop (Check! Working On It, On-Going!).
- Lighten up, have more fun and laugh more (Check - On-Going!).
- Work less hard (This One Is Hard - Relaxing More, But Need To Be Consistent!).
- Take more vacations (Check - Caribbean in 2011! Italy, France, Spain 2012-2013).
- Swim regularly during the summer (Check - On-Going!)
- Meditate daily, stretch and use free weights (Check! Working On 3-6 Days Week!).
- Spend a couple months in Australia, visit Puerto Rico, Aculpulco, Bahamas (Check!)
- Help save animals and improve their lives (Check! Donate!).
- Grow Roses (Check - One Growing Shrub, More On The Way!).
- Learn to make Creme Brulee (Check! I bought The 'How To Kit' in 2008!).
- Lunch at the Russian Tea Room.
- Visit the top of the Empire State Building.
- Walk the length of the Brooklyn Bridge a second, third, fourth time!(Check - On-Going)
- Make my mark on the world (Check - Work In Progress, Daily!).
- Stop to 'smell the roses', 'make each day New Year's Day', and 'make each day count' (Check! - I Do My Wonderful 5-Mile Walks 3-5 Days Each Week - Walking Meditation!).
- Read, or re-read, all of Ernest Hemingway's books (Working On It - Latest Is The Old Man And The Sea, January 2012! Re-reading the 'Best Of' in 2013-2014).
- Visit the Taj Mahal.
- Take more frequent trips with my friends and family (Check - Working On It!).
- Take more frequent regional weekend trips - explore and enjoy new adventures (Check - Working On It!)
- Create a Foundation to help children, animals and the elderly.
- Take more breaks during the workday - UnPlug (Check - On-Going!).
- Try something new each day and learn new things each day (Check - On-Going!).
- Perform daily PreMeditated Acts Of Kindness (Check - Especially In Traffic!).
- Take daily walks as part of my training for annual Breast Cancer 3-Day Walks (Check - On-Going, 3-5 Days Week).
- Be open-minded, less stubborn and more flexible (Check - Working On It!).
- Bake a cake from scratch and make a turkey with all the fixings.
- Recycle, Reuse, Reduce - Give The Boot To My Carbon Footprint (Check - On-Going, I Am Re-Doubling Efforts In 2012)!
- Travel to Great Britain for Wimbledon. (Have attended the Austranlian Open!)
- Travel to New York for the U.S. Open Tennis Championships.
- Appreciate more sunsets and sunrises (Check - On-Going, Love This Daily Resolve!).
- Count my blessings each and every day (Check - On-Going, Every Single Day!!).
- Stop complaining (Check And Double-Check - On-Going!).
- Photograph the Maine coast.
- Visit Santa Fe, New Mexico
- Write and photograph daily - (Check! Getting Back To My Routine After Time Away In 2010-2011 - Had To Focus On Work During Rough, Tough Recession).
- Eat more fruit and vegetables, daily (Check - Working On This, Need To Do Better, Small Steps!).
- Drink adequate water, hydrate (Check - On-Going, Water Bottle Is My Friend!).
- Worry less, it all works out, stay positive (Check - On-Going!).
- Build an Erector Set city that I can photograph in black and white - do a show!
- Smile more often, smile at strangers (Check - On-Going!).
- Think before I speak and listen more (Check - On-Going! I Occasionally Open Mouth, Insert Foot, And Promptly Apologize!).
- Break out of my routines, try new things and dare to be different (Check - On-Going!).
- Maintain a fabulous garden (Check - On-Going, Need To Do More Work, Love Gardening!).
- Enjoy each new day as if it is my last (Check - On-Going!).
- Show up every day, do my best, and know that it was good enough (Check - On-Going!).
- Visit Toronto.
- Visit Ireland and do a walking tour in the countryside.
- Bike more frequently outdoors (Check - On-Going!)
- Make family photo scrapbooks for my family members and scrapbooks for my resolutions. (Check - Working on a 3-year travelog photo book!
- Make things right when I have been wrong, apologize (Check! On-Going, I Am Not Afraid To Apologize).
- Admit when I'm wrong (Check - On-Going!).
- Practice what I preach, lead by example, talk can be cheap (Check - On-Going!).
- Take a two week cruise in Europe, including Italy and Greece with my sisters and Mom (Check For Me In 2012/2013! - Hope One Day With Family).
- Read more of the classics (Check - On-Going; Hemingway is my alltime favorite)
- Read newspapers before they are several days old (Check! Reduced Subscriptions To Weekend; Read Online Weekdays!).
- Be bold, be nice, do good - Volunteer (Check And Double Check - On-Going!!).
- Get adequate sleep (Check - On-Going!).
- Learn to bake pies (Hmmm, since I don't cook much, this may sit for awhile :)
- Cook a couple days each week (Check - On-Going!).
- Learn the names of the different kinds of birds that inhabit my six acres (Check - On-going).
- Learn the names of the plants, shrubs and trees that inhabit my six acres.
- Be a Resolutionista: Make resolutions. Keep resolutions. Enjoy the journey (CHECK!! I Live This Lifetime Resolution, On-Going Lifetime Resolution!).
- Do What I Love. Love What I Do. Achieve My LifeTime Dreams List (CHECK!! On-Going Lifetime Resolution!).
- Earn a Bachelor of Science Degree and Masters Degree (Check, Long Ago, But Never Stop Learning!)
- Buy a home that I love, care for it with love (Check - On-Going, Love Home Projects!)
- Build a business that I love, expand and thrive - work from home (Check - Longtime Work In Progress!).
- Stop smoking (Check, Long, Long Ago, Thank Goodness!!).
That is my updated list of the moment! And "yes", I have achieved many of the resolutions (and dozens that are not listed here - I do keep track in my journals, as I mentioned above, because success inspires and breeds more success). Now it is your turn to put pen to paper and draft a 'Lifetime Resolution List' of your own. It is an interesting, informative and inspirational exercise, as it helps dreamers like you and me to focus attention around the things that are truly important. Just think, if each one of us pursues one dream each year, that amounts to dozens of achievements in a lifetime . . . a life of doing what you love and loving what you do!
This is just a snapshot of the many ingredients that are necessary to make and keep a New Year Resolution. Bottom line: All the books, videos, systems, blogs, and advice in the world can't generate results 'for you' - they are simply tools. If you truly want to achieve a dream, change something about yourself, or create a new habit, it is entirely up to you to make it happen with ingenuity, hard work and sacrifice. It is your choice. It is up to you. Only you can make your resolution a reality . . . but the joy and reward you will find along the way will make the journey worth it!
Remember: I Resolve To . . . Achieve My New Year Resolutions, One Resolution, One Day At A Time For One Year.® It's your choice. Do it today. Turn your resolution into reality in five simple, common sense steps: Dare To Dream, Decide, Define, Develop A Plan, and Do It Daily. Make your resolution a permanent Lifetime Resolution, something that's with you for good! Above all, Be A Resolutionista, someone who makes resolutions, keeps resolutions, and enjoys the journey! Let's Go For It!
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