ON RESOLUTIONS – and the will to change.

by Velleda C. Ceccoli Ph.D. on December 31, 2014

v.ceccoli This is that time of year when everyone thinks about change and about the things in one’s life that need changing. The end of the year provides a time to take inventory of our lives, take stock of what we have done and what we have not. Resolutions abound, ranging from – losing weight, starting an exercise program, saving money, buying a house, reading more, going to church, quitting smoking, being kinder- you name it. Resolutions usually involve change, and change is usually associated with will power and the ability to do something differently.

As a noun, resolution has a number of meanings, and all of them are relevant to the process of change. Resolution as an intention involves resolve, the act of deciding to do something and doing it, as well as an aim, a plan and a commitment that is set forth with purpose and determination. Resolution as a motion involves a proposal or proposition that is then resolved through acceptance and implementation. Resolution as a behavioral attribute such as determination (resoluteness) has to do with firmness of purpose, steadfastness, staunchness, persistence, tenacity, and dedication. And finally, there is resolution as a solution, as an answer, an end, a settlement or a conclusion. Whew! No wonder so many struggle with resolutions at this time of year, they consist of complex interactions between a wish or goal (intention), the ability to make a decision and plan (motion), a stick-to-it-ness (behavior) and a solution (completion). To this complex mix I would add fantasy, and the particular coloration that it lends to what we believe will happen once we instituted our resolution.

And here is where the rub is.

Enveloped in our resolutions lie many of our wishes and fantasies, in the shape of our best selves. So if we read more, or exercise more, or (fill in your own blank here), we will become some much better version of who we are, perhaps an idealized version of who we are, and as such we will finally have what we want (again fill in your own blank here)- a better life, partnership, etc. You can see why resolutions are complicated things and also, why people often fail at them. While willpower is involved, it only gets one so far, and thereafter, it is our knowledge of our internal workings that determines our approach to change. Much of this has to do with self-acceptance, and our ability to get to know those parts of us that we least like and spend much of our time avoiding. After all, those are the ones that require changing right? The ones that resolutions try to reshape or altogether CHANGE so that our better self can live, if not happily ever after, then at least, less encumbered and content.

On this new years eve, full of promise and hope for what can be changed in our lives, I wish all of my readers the resolve to be all of themselves and to live as fully as possible.

Thank you for reading on….

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Larry Zelnick January 1, 2015 at 2:12 PM

Who knew (but now we do) how richly nuanced is the word “resolution”. I like especially the thought:
… our ability to get to know the parts of us we least like …
Thanks as always for your quiet wisdom.


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