Resolutions come from revolutions

This column was originally published as part of my “Looking Homeward” series at

It’s that time of year again. New Year’s is sneaking up on us. Resolutions await.

The list will be long. After all, most of us have resolutions left over from years past which we’ve never kept. We can dust them off and add them to the growing list. We’ll try again this New Year.

We’re told that the New Year is just that — new. It comes to us unspotted and fresh. We can start all over.

Don’t we wish it were so!

But we know better. We bring into this New Year last year’s obligations and problems. Only the calendar dies.

Pessimistic? Perhaps, unless resolutions are backed by revolutions.

Most resolutions happen only if we experience revolutions in our thinking and living. Resolutions are simply paper and hot air unless our hopes and dreams are given legs and wheels that only revolutions can furnish.

For instance, “I resolve to be a better spouse and parent this year.”

That’s a noble and fine resolution. But vague. Yet it can happen, if I list ways to accomplish the feat.

We may have to “act our way into a new way of thinking,” a favorite approach my father used with challenging situations.

And it will take revolutions.

The calendar is often the culprit. We may have to alter the everyday, making room for something new.

For example, we can choose to have breakfast together to improve our family life. Nothing fancy, just a time to eyeball each other before the mad dash of the day begins.

Yes, we may need to get up ten minutes earlier or put our clothes out the night before or put the bagels in the front refrigerator door, but it can be done if it’s important enough.

Dinner is another time to regroup and connect. Yes, it takes planning. But, if we find time to look our family in their eyes, we often discover what is on their minds.

For couples, create a standing Friday night date. Or go away for an overnight quarterly. Or simply set aside a certain time daily to talk to see how the day is unfolding.

Revolutionary war with our schedules may be the price we pay for the resolution. Our resolute thinking demands revolutionized action. And it’s difficult.

So cheat.

Grab the calendar, the Blackberry or cell phone and program the new plan into your day, complete with reminders. We live in an interrupt-driven world these days, so use it to your advantage in your revolutionary war. Schedule action plans as appointments and remind yourself in the same way.

My mother’s red-penned church calendars marked dates and times she needed to remember. My sister’s Franklin calendar system keeps her action-driven life in order. My girlfriend’s cell phone alarm reminds her of appointments. And my computer’s calendar feature chimes at every scheduled task.

New Year’s resolutions may not be as simple as we think. But they are possible — if we are ready for revolutions.

Happy Resolutions and Revolutions for the New Year.