Thu, Jan. 23

Resolutions without road map a dead-end street

When I’m not churning out newspapers, I’m a volunteer distance running coach at the high school.

So, I’m quite familiar with listening to kids talk about goals.

Some talk more than others.

All of which is a cue for us adults who are about to outline our list of goals – better known as resolutions this time of the year – for 2019.

There are some good lessons – and some not so good – about kids and the way they establish and follow through on the goals they set for themselves.

They basically fall into three distinct categories:

-A seemingly unrealistic goal. So far out of reach that it’s all but forgotten a month later.

-An oft-repeated goal. This is the one you hear about on a weekly basis. Typically, there is more talk than action with these types, and a belief system based more on an end result than a course of action.

-The highly protected goal. These kids aren’t big on talk. They are direct and precise about their goals, but they hold them close to the vest. It’s much like Bob Dylan’s admission to Ed Bradley years ago on 60 Minutes. He clearly knew what he wanted to accomplish when he hitchhiked to New York City as a 19-year-old in 1960. He called it his personal destiny: “It’s a feeling you have that you know something about yourself - nobody else does - the picture you have in your mind of what you’re about will come true. It’s kind of a thing you kind of have to keep to your own self, because it’s a fragile feeling. And if you put it out there, somebody will kill it. So, it’s best to keep that all inside.”

For these kids, the end result is often a foregone conclusion because of their allegiance to the process of getting there.

And that’s the lesson we adults need to buy into as we outline out list of resolutions for 2019.

Most of us, according to countless national studies, are lousy at following through on goals, or fulfilling resolutions. Huffington Post reports that only 8 percent of us will succeed with this annual ritual called New Year’s resolutions. Business Insider reports that 80 percent of us will fail at this exercise in commitment by February.

A year ago, after being challenged by Cottonwood’s Jason Finger, I put myself on the line using this same space to outline two resolutions for 2018. I will finish the year with a 50-percent success rate.

The first was to emulate Finger’s amazing streak of consecutive uninterrupted running days. He recently hit 1,800 consecutive days of running, during which he has now run more than 5,000 miles.

My resolution was 365 consecutive days and 1,000 miles. The consecutive-day streak ended at 336 days with my excuse being a horrible bout with the flu. I will, however, achieve my 1,000-mile goal; as of this writing Saturday I’m only 5 miles shy.

Despite coming up short on the 365-day goal, I’m still satisfied with the past year because I succeeded at the objective while still failing at one of the goals. I established a pattern. I stayed the course.

The goals were far removed from simply being things on a wish list.

The lesson learned here is that the plan of action is a lot more important than the end-result goal. It’s like any other journey. You don’t reach your destination without a road map.

So, for whatever your resolution is for 2019, start by making that road map to your own personal destination and complete the course. Define the process and stick with it. Demand an accountability process for your task.

A year from now ask yourself if it was worth it.

Many years ago, Bob Dylan said that “He not busy being born is busy dying.”

Make 2019 a year of rebirth.

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