“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


* 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?