“New Year’s Day is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.” ~ Mark Twain
New Year’s resolutions often are a topic of derision. We treat the annual ritual of making promises to ourselves as a joke, a light-hearted acknowledgement of our inability to keep a commitment.
Something about that sits poorly with me.
Promises are important. We make promises to our business associates, our clients, our community and our family. We take oaths and we enter into contracts with every intention of honoring them. Inherently, we know promises are not random statements to be taken lightly. We may disappoint ourselves, and others, but never without remorse. Yet, the lowly New Year’s resolution continues to take its annual beating.
Perhaps it’s easier to break a commitment to ourselves than to others. But breaking commitments to anyone, ourselves included, damages the spirit. What we need is a reminder – not of the importance of promises, but some tips on how to make and then keep a promise.
There are good reasons as a business person to make a few resolutions. We can all do better, apply ourselves more consistently, be more actively and intelligently engaged in our travel practice. Perhaps your resolutions concern your own progress. Others will find an altruistic objective worthy of their promises. Whatever your goals, the question remains how best to approach the effort.
If you are considering one or more New Year’s resolutions, perhaps these few reminders will be of some assistance to your resolve.
Think twice before you make a promise. Don’t promise lightly. Consider the commitments you make and weigh what you really want. You may decide you are making a promise you don’t really want to keep. Don’t over commit and don’t make a promise you cannot get behind 100% from the moment you make it. When in doubt, defer the promise.
Be specific. We tend to generalize when we make promises, especially to ourselves. Next year we are going to “be healthier.” What does that mean? It’s easy to evade a commitment when we don’t specify what the commitment means! “Losing 5 pounds by February 15th” is a specific goal with a date attached. Now you know exactly what you are committing to do.
Have a plan. It’s not enough to know WHAT you want to do. Plan how you are going to achieve your goal. When you have a plan, you have a way of keeping check on your progress.
Involve a partner. Nothing bolsters a commitment like asking someone to hold you accountable. Tell your family, friends or business partners what you are doing, how you are going to do it and by when. Importantly, ask for their support. Your own resolve will be greatly enhanced.
Seal it with a ritual. It’s no coincidence we make our commitments on New Year’s day. Time does matter to us and no one regards the beginning of a year, a relationship, an undertaking with indifference. Here’s a secret borrowed from some religious traditions – create a ceremony around your new commitments on New Year’s Day. Say a prayer, burn a candle or take a walk reciting your promise. Do all 3. Commemorate and celebrate your capacity to make a promise in a New Year and your ability to fulfill it.
Time does matter. So do promises.
Happy New Year. Together, let’s make 2016 count in a big way. We are on your side.
Richard Earls is the Publisher of Travel Research Online, an online travel industry resource dedicated to enhancing the professional lives of travel agents.