Resolved: No Resolutions!

With the holidays over, we’re rushing headlong into the new year, which for many of us means… resolutions. I’ve always loved the feeling of starting a fresh year and optimistically making a list of things I want to accomplish, so I usually spend quite a bit of time on this. I’ve read all kinds of blog posts and articles about how to effectively set goals.



But this year I couldn’t muster any excitement for it. I jotted down a list of goals but it looked like just one more “to-do” list in a never-ending succession of to-do lists that I can never quite finish. One more set of standards I would probably never live up to. I have no emotional engagement in these goals. All I could think was, Who cares?

I tore up my list, so now I’m resolution-less. I feel untethered without my annual self-imposed marching orders, yet I’m unwilling to make myself another list.

We’ve been told over and over to make our goals specific and measurable: “I want to run a marathon” instead of “I want to be in shape.” Ironically, I think the push towards the quantifiable result can distance us from our internal motivation for the goal in the first place.

What if we went the opposite direction and stated the underlying emotional reason for the goal? Most people’s resolution to “get in shape” or “lose weight” would translate to “feel good about myself” and “look good to others.” Maybe we’d all learn more about ourselves and be able to keep “resolutions” better if we connected to what’s really driving us.

So I’ve decided to focus on my internal motivations instead of the goals themselves. I’m asking myself: How do I want to feel? What do I want to be? Once I identify those motivations, then I’ll try to make daily choices that steer me towards them, and try to avoid things that lead me away from them. A whole new approach to resolutions. Adjectives, mostly, rather than nouns and verbs.

So here are a few of my words:

  • Peaceful.
  • Effective.
  • Wise.
  • Energetic.
  • Healthy.
  • Caring.
This is my first-pass list and it may change, but I don’t want to make it too complicated. I just want the words to be a guide as I make daily choices, plans, goals and to-do lists throughout the year.


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Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Gardner Literary. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!