This year I really, really, really, really, really mean it. I am going to keep my New Years’ Resolutions. I will. Last year I wasn’t ready. This year. Yeah, I will.
Been there? You ever wonder why it is so hard to keep New Years’ Resolutions? Have you ever been tried to hold your breath for 2 minutes for the first time in a decade? Or tried to eat 30 hot dogs when your diet usually consists of 1000 calories per day? Or run a marathon when you have not run in years? While it is possible to accomplish these feats, it is rarely possible to complete the challenges if they are not a part of your current rhythm of life.
Integrity means that we do what we say were going to do in the time we say we are going to do it, and in the manner in which we said we would do it.
Often, we do not keep our word to things throughout the day and we just kind of blow it off. And maybe it isn’t a big deal that we were 5 minutes late to a meeting, but we did give our word. We struggle to keep our word in “small” things, so can we trust ourselves to keep our word suddenly in “big” things?
Maybe the issue with resolutions is not necessarily that we don’t know how to be disciplined but that we are just not practiced at keeping our word. Shaquille O’Neal is famous for saying, “I make the free throws when it matters.” Stats say otherwise, and…doesn’t every point matter when playing a competitive sport?
Perhaps we do not think it is a big deal to a little late because we look around and no one is really keeping their word in everything, but this is not about everyone else. It is about you being able to trust yourself to keep your word. It is YOUR word…for you to honor yourself.
Honor Your Word, When You Don’t Keep It
In order for us to really trust ourselves to keep our word when we’re doing a big thing, we need to keep our word in small things. True, sometimes keeping our word is not possible. There are instances when we are just not able to keep our word because of circumstances. When those things happen we can still honor our word by acknowledging that we did not keep our word. For instance, if you are late for a meeting due to a train you can still acknowledge that you were late and did not keep your word while also acknowledging there’s a reason- it is not an excuse, but an explanation.
Thus, the first part of keeping your word is honoring your word when you haven’t kept it. The next part is recognizing how many times you are not keeping your word. This is not to shame yourself. This is to become aware of how often you do not keep your word in a day. You might be surprised. Again, this is not to shame yourself, but just to become aware.
For many areas of our lives we are usually unaware and thus remain incompetent in an area. The hope is to move from unconsciously incompetent to consciously incompetent. Again, this is by noticing how often you do not keep your word.
Work the Process
Then you work towards improvement. You recognize patterns. I am consistently 5-10 minutes late to meetings. I would like to only be late once this week to a meeting. This is moving from consciously incompetent to consciously competent. What you were bad at, you are now good at.
You are staying focused on goals, and not rules. When we fixate on rules our lives become simply about those rules. When our lives are about goals then we are moving in a positive direction and maybe add rules to help us accomplish goals. For example, if I want to be on time for meetings what things are keeping me from that? I need to drink my coffee on the way to the office rather than before I leave. That is very different than simply making a rule to drink coffee in the car rather than home without a reason.
As we take these steps to improve in the areas where are not keeping our word, eventually we move to consciously competent. This is the state when we don’t have to think about things to do them correctly. For instance, when you are in a public place you don’t have to remind yourself “Ok, don’t murder. Don’t murder.”
This gets you on the path of keeping and honoring your word so that when New Years or other benchmarks come around and you have new goals, you have a process with which you can meet those resolutions head on. This does not guarantee that you will keep all your resolutions. The steps are making the conditions favorable though for success. When you are able to look at yourself in the mirror and know that you are keeping an honoring your word it goes a long way to allowing for you to keep and honor your resolutions that you might make weather to New Year’s or any other time of the year.