“This is how I would have you write your life: in action. It is not enough to intend or consider, you must choose to act, often and ongoingly.” ~ Twyla Tharp
After the hectic rush of year-end, it’s time to take a deep breath and refocus. Opening the page on a fresh calendar seems an opportunity to turn over a new leaf as well. And it’s the dawn of a new decade* – all the more reason to set bold goals and resolutions.
But the idea of making resolutions seems more likely to be dismissed than embraced these days. Much of the disdain, I think, comes from a history of unmet promises and abandoned plans. Before you say: “Bah! Humbug!” to making or renewing your commitments – remember the lesson of Dicken’s A Christmas Carol – that transformation is possible, even joyous!
“He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them.”
~ Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
This week (in addition to seeing a lovely stage play of A Christmas Carol), I’ve been reading Twyla Tharpe’s new book, Keep it Moving. In it, she advises that we focus on a pledge, rather than a goal. A pledge, she says, is “a distillation of your life’s work in action.” It is manifest in all the choices you make and has no end point. You should be “striving to reach it, always trying to refine, hone, and improve your choices to better fulfill it.”
I’ve found that advice encouraging as I’ve been honing my vision, commitments, and goals for the new year. I haven’t yet captured the pledge that underpins them, but I think Twyla Tharp is right in saying that none of these intentions are real until I take deliberate action on them. I’m quite aware that an accumulation of small accomplishments and new habits will make a difference for me, so I’ve taken time to set them out and ensure they are both aspirational and achievable.
For me, this is an empowering exercise, even though I can look back over last year and see missed opportunities as well as accomplishments. Among Tharp’s pearls of wisdom is this additional truism: we can imagine ourselves differently.
If you, too would like to start out the year with a positive vision and – more importantly – a concrete plan for making that real, I have curated some food for thought for your musings and resolution-making. My best wishes to you for the new year!
If you need a sounding board or support for making your L&D resolutions or plans (individual or department-wide), I would be pleased to collaborate with you. Sign up for a free half-hour consultation about your goals and challenges. Appointments available through February 7. Sign up here or email me.
Recommendations for making resolutions
- Resolve to do your new year’s resolutions differently by John Hagel (Edge Perspectives, 2018). Timeless advice on a process for reflecting on the past and setting goals for the future.
- How to start new habits that actually stick by James Clear (Atomic Habits, 2018). Many resolutions involve establishing new routines, and this article explains in clear terms what research has shown about habit formation and habit-breaking.
- How to create an empowering vision board by Jack Canfield. A vision board can help you to explore your dreams in advance of setting goals to achieve them.
- The top 3 reasons new year’s resolutions fail and how yours can succeed by Kathy Caprino (Forbes, 2019). Good points on how to avoid resolution failure (aside from not making resolutions at all).
- Charting Your Course by Catherine Lombardozzi (2019). My detailed guide for planning your more ambitious self-directed learning projects. (Contact me if I can help!)
- 9 Techniques to achieve learning agility and future-proof yourself in an age of disruption by Arun Pradhan (eLearning Industry, 2017). Whatever your goals, no doubt learning will have to be part of the plan, and Arun Pradhan has great insight on the topic of learning agility (learning to learn).
- How to read more by Austin Kleon (2019). These pointers can be hacked to make room for whatever enrichment activities you have on your list.
* There’s some argument about when the decade starts. Regardless of which interpretation you hold, let’s call this year a good place to make a start, either launching or preparing for the new decade. What will the 2020s bring for you?