Friday, January 11, 2008


... so begins the refrain of the David Bowie song, "Changes." There are some other great lyrics in that song, but it occurred to me that at the beginning of a new year this simple one word phrase is especially popular. Changes.

When New Years Day hits everyone is motivated to, well, makes changes in their lives. Or at least make resolutions to make changes in their lives. (By the way, I'm not sure most people know what resolution means, but that could be an entirely different blog topic.... ;^) And you know the usual ones that we've all made and/or heard year-after-year: get in shape, spend more time with family, get a better job or receive a promotion, etc.

There are several things I observe year-over-year, without fail:
  • The resolutions most people make are high-level / grandiose things. Great dreams to be sure!!! But these tend to be either easy to achieve (if you cheat in your measurement) or nearly impossible to completely achieve...

  • A person often make the same resolution year-after-year and never completes/achieves it. If it is THAT important, why not? After all, it's a resolution, something you are determined to do.

  • Typically folks do nothing more than state and briefly think about their resolutions while celebrating with friends and raising a glass of champagne. Real contemplating doesn't go into deciding what resolutions to make and, once made, are quickly forgotten.

  • People seem to make resolutions that they think others expect them to make. While indeed there are some things we all probably want to achieve, there are certainly things that are unique and deeply important to us each individually.
Well let's talk about another Ch-ch-ch-ch word: Choose.

It is obvious that YOU choose the resolutions you make. You also have the power to make all the choices to accomplish those resolutions that are truly important in your life! And which ones ARE important? Which are those that are inline with your goals and desires, not what everyone else is doing? Those that bring joy in your life, those that impact areas that you passionately care about?

If you can readily answer those questions with some degree of detail, I'll contend you are probably accomplishing most of what you've resolved to do (and are also a rarity ;^)! Most people, myself too sometimes, aren't quite so productive with their resolutions.

When we make resolutions we need to actively and positively think about what brings us feelings of satisfaction, success and joy. These should be written down, and not be an incredibly long list (which can often seem insurmountable). A half-a-dozen items that are core to who you are, what you want to achieve in life, and how you foresee changing to accomplish meaningful things this year.

Now, what are the choices you need to make throughout the year to fulfill your personal plans? Jot down specific decisions and actions that you will choose to do this year to enable your resolutions to be realized. Let me use those three examples of not-so-great resolutions from the beginning of this blog article (maybe they really are what you are most concerned about and achieving them will provide joy in your life), and propose what might be a better...
  • Get in shape: Health is important to living a long life and being in shape allows me to better accomplish other things I care about. I am going to join a health club before February 1st. I'm going to talk to knowledgeable people there and learn how I can effectively achieve better health through exercise and nutrition. I will change habits as necessary (no more ice cream right before going to bed) and make time to do this (exercise 3 times a week) because it is important to me and those who love me.

  • Spend more time with family: Time with family is the thing that brings me the most joy in life. Yet often I realize it takes a back seat to work, volunteer activities, etc. I will make specific plans, perhaps going so far as to schedule it in my planner, to be home for dinner. I will not check my email from my phone when I'm at the Circus with my kids. ;^) I won't use vacation days to do projects around the house. My kids will be out of the house one day and my friends may move away, so I will enjoy and maximize the time I have with them.

  • Get a better job: I like what I do, am good at it, enjoy the people with whom I work, and provide good financial support for my family. However, it greatly reduces the time I have at home (due to both long hours and travel), and also, aside from providing income, does not lead me down the road to accomplishing those things that are most important to me in life. I will look for other positions in my current company that might provide experiences that are more in line with my desired direction. I will contact outside people who know me well, letting them know what I am really interested in doing and asking them to keep me in mind if they hear anything. I will identify and pursue education that may be required to enable me to get another position I seek.
I think you get the idea. You see that if someone really considered and acomplished those three resolutions what an awesome achievement it would be!

So, what resolutions did you make this year? (And remember, it's never too late to make them and/or change them...) Are the choices you are making ones that will lead you to achieving what you set out to do so you can thrive this year? When New Years Eve comes next year envision yourself celebrating an incredible year of accomplishment and moving on to even better things!

Here's to joyful ch-ch-changes in ALL aspects of our lives in 2008!

Bill May
ChooseJoy, Inc.