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Magic Kingdom

Where Dreams Come True? Cinderella's Castle--the Magic Kingdom

As usual this time of year, I’ve run across my fair share of enthusiastic New Year’s resolution makers and equally enthusiastic resolution bashers. It doesn’t matter to me which side of the aisle you’re on (I’m decidedly in the middle), as long as you don’t fall into the club of vague discontent that engenders the following statements:

  • “I’m not making any resolutions; I’m just going to live better.”
  • “I’m going to live a more healthy lifestyle.”
  • “I’m going to live with no regrets.”
  • “This is going to be my year.”
  • “I’m getting rid of all negativity.”
  • “I’m striving to do better this year than last year.”

These statements, by themselves, aren’t bad; they convey the sentiments that lie behind most goals or resolutions. However, they don’t usually work because they are incomplete.

It’s hard to be successful at something when all you have outlined is what you want to do. I want to be a writer. At some point I will have to write and either self-publish or find a publisher. I can be in that boat for a very long time. Unless I actually make some concrete, measurable steps along the way, it doesn’t matter that I want to do something. I’m never going to get anything accomplished with a vague hope, whether I call it a goal, resolution, word of the year, or just “living better.”

So let’s take a few of the aforementioned vague notions and make them concrete, shall we?

“I want to live better” can be anything from “I want to do more than make ends meet financially” to “I want to leave a smaller carbon footprint” to “I want to eat more whole, unprocessed foods and exercise.” You have to be able to identify what you want to be better, so you can make a conscious effort to get “better.” If you want to remove negativity or drama, what is the root cause of negativity or drama in your life? Is it a certain person or group of people, unhappiness with your job or career, or do you crave/attract gossip and controversy yourself?

Since “better” is a modifier that can only be explained by knowing what the subject was before, you have to know where you are in relationship to where you want to be. Once you know where you are and where you want to go, it becomes easier to map out a course of action to get there. If you were going on a road trip in a country you’d never been to before and didn’t know well, the last thing you would want to do is get into the car with someone who didn’t have a map, only a vague notion that where you wanted to go was somewhere to the Northeast. Why would you think that was an acceptable way to navigate your life?

I’m not trying to discourage anyone or bash anyone’s positive thoughts for the new year. I’m saying that having an actual plan increases your chances of success. The  plan may change along the way, but it’s easier to alter a plan than to have to come up with one in a difficult situation. Even luck and chance (if you believe in that) favor a prepared individual.

If you have no other goal for your life, it should be to live with more intent, to strive for “better,” whatever that means for you, in a way that yields positive, abundant results.

That’s my two cents, anyway. Leave yours in the comments section.