Why resolutions never work.

Resolutions never work.

Ok, I guess that’s a gross generalization.

Resolutions rarely work. Why? Change doesn’t care about the calendar. Change is an inside job. There is absolutely nothing magical about January 1st. You can start every morning knowing that something could change- if you wanted it to, whether it is January 1st or 17th or not even January at all.

Let’s talk basics. You want to set a resolution that you will be, well, resolute about and follow through? You need to know these definitions. (Thanks for the lesson, Mom. Moms know best.)

Goals vs. desires.  

In order for you to have a home that’s working while avoiding becoming a controlling person, you need to define the difference between a goal and a desire. Goals are things you control. Desires are things you do not control. Desires require someone else’s cooperation. It is my goal to go to the grocery store. I control it. I get a pad of paper. I make a list of what I need. I get my keys and my purse and I drive myself there. I come home and I put away the food. It was a goal. A small goal. I controlled it. I decided it and it required no one else’s input.

In contrast, it is a desire that everyone loves the meal I made. While I can work hard to prepare a tasty offering, the ultimate decision is out of my hands.

Are you catching on to these definitions?

It was a goal to write a book. I signed myself up for a writing course. I started writing. I finished writing. It was a goal and it got done. It is a desire that people read it. It is a desire that you like it, that it matters to you, that it makes a difference, that it means something to you. I don’t control that part.

When you let go of desires, and instead set goals, you become the least controlling but most productive person.

Setting goals that can be accomplished.

You might have accidentally set a desire as a goal and in that case, well…you might be stuck.

So, how would one get unstuck from a bad resolution? Set a real goal. Probably a small, attainable one at that. If your resolution is to have tidy home- cool. But, not a goal- a desire because you share your home with others. Try this instead. I want to become a tidier person (you control YOU so that would work.) See?

I think you are on the right track to setting more successful goals as long as you aren’t making assumptions.

Are you making assumptions?

Most people who keep a tidy home or who “have their act together” are usually coupled with the negative assumptions that their tasks are more important than people. You don’t have to pick. This is my theory and I’ve been testing it awhile. It’s tricky but here’s the premise.

It’s the opposite of what you may assume. I prepare the home to care for the people I love in a more efficient fashion. Home is just the grid in which I actually do it. My tasks are for loving. My skills are for serving.

(And, no, I’m not a martyr. I’m not a traditionalist. I’m just a nice person that knows my responsibilities in this season. We are a family and we all pitch in too.)

After I figured out how to maintain a fairly tidy and clean home, it took me awhile to stop having clean house guilt because of the popular statement “Please excuse the mess, my children are making memories.” It would replay in my mind every time we were putting our toys away. Well, you know what? That wasn’t helpful.

It was time to change the narrative (a small resolve to change the story I was telling myself.)

I switched that statement to “Let’s clean this up and get ready for our next memory!” We enjoyed putting something away so that we could finalize that moment or activity and move on to the next.

In an odd way, I think it kept me living in the present vs leaving our little messes around as evidence of our past.

That’s an example of a small resolution I made. As in, that wasn’t working…I am willing to try something new now. 

My grandmother says, “Until the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change, you won’t.”  Wow. Chew on that. But, I don’t think you need the pain to be your first indicator. Can you catch it much sooner? Just look around everyday and say, what can shift? What could change? What is better? What is the best? Oops, that didn’t work…let’s try something else. Wow, that was terrible- let’s not do that again.

Everyday changes.

I think you should make peace with small everyday changes. Resolutions as in HUGE DESIRES THAT MAGICALLY APPEAR January 1st? Hmm…I don’t know about those. Resolutions as in being resolute and determined to make small adjustments everyday that get you closer to your goals? YES. I really think this is the best way to live.

I worked at it (this way of life). It doesn’t come naturally- change that is. Whether you are changing your perspective or just trying out a different solution, letting go of judging yourself or making assumptions, it takes work. I wish it was more complicated than that- but it looks like work. Everyday work.

Have I cleared this up for you? Or at least offered a unique perspective? I hope so. I certainly wish you all the best as you face a bazillion hard choices everyday, set silent goals, achieve big wins in the small stuff in your heart and home. Cheers to the New Year…err…I mean…

Cheers to November 13 or January 3rd or any normal, hopeful day in which all things could be made new.

Buy Brooke’s book (I’m failing at) This Thing Called Home in paperback Buy now.

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3 responses to “Why resolutions never work.”

  1. Les says:

    I’m glad I read this! Thank you Brooke and happy new year!

  2. Trina Lozano says:

    I’m glad you learned when I taught you Goals vs Desires. Making that simple distinction really is a game changer isn’t it?! Of course this is my favorite blog so far. This is Well written sweetie and I love it!

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