Resolution Tip #5 – Set An End Date

In my last two blog posts, I wrote about allowing for failure and about setting reasonable goals.   Failure to do either of these things will likely lead to discouragement, which leads to resolution abandonment.  Another discouragement-inducing element to inject into your resolutions is making your resolutions eternal.  This is something that we don’t often think about when making resolutions and it is not something that we do deliberately.  But when making resolutions that involve doing something repeatedly (daily, weekly, monthly), we may not specify the length of time that we are obligated to our commitment.  If you have made a resolution to exercise three times a week, at what point have you fulfilled your resolution?  July?  December 31st?  Once we have sailed far from the January 1st shoreline, how do we know when we have reached our destination?  This leads us back to Resolution Tip #2 that tells us to be specific.  The more specific we are with our resolutions, the more likely we are to follow them.

You are more likely to exercise regularly when you know that you are only obligated to your commitment for a fixed length of time.  Knowing that there is a finish line and knowing where it is located makes it easier to run a race well.  An open-ended resolution is more likely to be abandoned mid-year than one that has an end date.

You may say, “But, how can resolving to change my diet be temporary?” or “How can a resolution to pray everyday have an end date?  I should always pray.  I should always eat well.”  These things are true.  However, the goal with your resolutions is to get the fire going.  Resolutions are temporary arrangements that you make with yourself to change something.  The goal with resolutions is to stir up motivation so that you naturally desire to do the things that you are resolving  to do.  The eventual goal is to eat well because you want to be healthy, to exercise because it makes you feel better, to give to charity because you like making a difference in people’s lives.  Resolutions are the way to kick start you on that path.  Actions before feelings.

Now, what if you reach your end date and determine that you are still not naturally motivated in a particular area?  Renew the resolution or rewrite it in a different way.  The key is to give yourself a stopping point.  Stopping points are important in life.  That is why holidays and vacations are so important.  You need to have those markers, milestones and breaks to break up the monotony of life.  For me, the knowledge that the world will slow down for a couple weeks at the end of December and will come to a complete stop on Christmas Day provides an emotional anchor for me and reminds me that I’m not a hamster on a wheel continually going until I burn out.

If you intend to keep a resolution going perpetually, then schedule a time when you are allowed to take a break from your resolution.  Knowing that there will be a break and knowing where that break will come will help to keep you on track, will help you keep your sanity and will help you to avoid discouragement in keeping a resolution.

Specify the break!

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