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Voice of Experience

Voice of Experience: January 2023

Resolution Solution

Seth D Kramer

Resolution Solution

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I have always thought that New Year’s resolutions were really punishments in disguise. And worse yet, they are mostly self-inflicted.

Traditionally, the resolutions would be aspirational in nature: like exercising an hour a day for two months. A good thing that would improve my life. And I would have the best intentions of following through on it. But then—daily life would interfere. Pre-existing obligations and responsibilities would get in the way of my completing the resolution. In essence, New Year's resolutions set you up for failure. Not the best way to start out a new year.

However, I take a different approach to New Year’s resolutions. Ever since I was a child, I  always worked better on an unpleasant or difficult task when there was an enticing reward at the completion. As such, I treat the traditional aspirational NewYear’s resolutions as a means to an end.

And the end is always something enjoyable. Essentially, a “sweetener” that makes the medicine more palatable.

For example, if I do an hour of exercise every day for two months, I might promise to buy myself a 45-inch flat-screen HDTV. And when I am huffing and puffing from a hard cardio workout, the thought of getting the 45-inch flat-screen HDTV keeps me motivated.

To me, a New Year’s resolution is not a strict binary option, but a more flexible thing reflecting the reality of the moment. I even have a formula for rewarding myself if I only complete part of a resolution. For instance, if I were only able to do three days a week of exercise for two months, I might buy myself a 36-inch flat-screen HDTV.

And sometimes, but not often, I fall short and don’t achieve my resolution. Other times, the act of meeting a goal is its own reward. Usually, however, I’ll take the reward I’ve promised myself. Not a bad way to start the New Year!