A few years back, I committed to myself that I wouldn't make resolutions but instead make daily incremental changes towards becoming the best version of myself that I could possibly be. It has worked out well for the most part. I decided to do that because of the failure rate I see in people making lofty new years resolutions that fizzle out in weeks. It wasn't until the last few weeks contemplating resolutions that I came to understand why people don't follow through with their resolutions. I want to dive into that and the thoughts that have led me to as we enter 2021.
The first problem with resolutions is that people don't understand the meaning of the word. Resolution is thrown around as something tangible that can be accomplished but it's actually something much larger. A resolution is a change to behavior or who you are as a person. How can a change that alters who you are be accomplished in a single year? You can't! One of my big pet peeves around this time is hearing the resolution of "getting fit". Getting fit isn't something that happens in one year - people want to be fit forever not just one year right? That's the whole point! Understanding duration and lifespan are critical to making resolutions that actually happen.
The second problem with resolutions is understanding what it takes to fulfill one. One of Mirriam Webster’s definitions of resolution is “the act of analyzing a complex notion into simpler ones”. By definition, a resolution is something that much is broken down into smaller pieces. I call these goals. Using the "fitness" resolution completely violates this rule. There are no smaller pieces that make up the larger goal. By taking the overarching resolution and breaking it into smaller bite-sized goals, you take an abstract end result and make it real with measurable achievements along the way. Without the measurement, you can't track progress and will therefore never reach the end result.
Putting thought into resolutions has led me to think deeply about conviction which I think will be one of my personal themes this year. Conviction is a firmly held belief or opinion. You need conviction to reach a resolution. Not only do you need to understand the structure of a resolution but you also need conviction - if you don't believe you need to accomplish something why would you? Someone who doesn't see fitness as important will never develop conviction in order to pursue that. Someone who sees it as important will need to figure out how to build conviction strong enough to achieve it. But where does conviction come from? We see a lot of people online supposedly with "conviction" about all sorts of ideas but I will argue conviction comes not from external sources, but from within.
Having quick access to all the information in the world is supposedly a good thing, but I think we as a society are experiencing an unrecognized side effect. We spend our time reading and absorbing information online nonstop. When consuming this information, there isn't second thought to it. Any new information that enters our brains is almost always someone else's thoughts. We recognize it as something new/original and that spark feels like you discovered something. Because this thought feels like new discovery, I think we have an immediate bias towards it and instantly take it for the gospel without fact-checking or any secondary verification. I see evidence of this in the hordes of people online sharing posts supporting a certain belief but talking with them proves they haven't thought it through. Touting someone else's beliefs is not conviction.
Going forward this year, I want to develop my own conviction about things. Take in information, compare it to what I know to be true, and change my thoughts or discard it. Everything I'm spending my time doing is about testing my conviction in order to find the things that are true.