Are you still hitting the gym every other day to get in shape and lose some pounds? Given up that nasty habit of smoking? Cut back on the alcohol as you promised yourself you would? Treating those around you nicer and more lovingly than in 2015?
Isn’t making a New Year’s Resolution just another way of trying to start a new life – free of whatever it is that makes you less than fulfilled and happy with your current life? Picking one or two foibles attributed to us then trying to “fix” them on January 1st seems to me to be an attempt to break down into smaller parts those things we want to change in ourselves. If we fail to lose the 10 pounds we need to lose, then we have not really failed at anything “big”. We’ll try again next year.
Shouldn’t we really up the stakes? Shouldn’t we address the whole of who we are? Shouldn’t we set our ultimate goal at what we want to be, and be remembered as, now that we have grown up? In my practice doing Family Law, I see confused, hurt, and beaten down clients every day. Whether they have decided to end the marriage, or their spouse has made that decision for them, they are “starting a new life.” In essence, they have to make new decisions, establish new goals, and form new conclusions about who they are and what they will be – for them and their families.
This year, thanks to my re-reading Daniel Pink’s book “Drive”, as for me, I decided to approach this “I want to change things” attitude from a different perspective. Our Firm has tried to integrate this principle into each of our daily lives and help our clients see a simpler and easier way to get started on their new lives.
In his book “Drive”, Mr. Pink tells the story of a meeting in 1962 that Clair Booth Luce, who was a writer, ambassador, and powerful woman in her time, had with President John F. Kennedy. She told Kennedy of her concern about all the irons in the fire that he had going on from domestic to foreign issues. Luce worried about the future ramifications to Kennedy from his scattered focus.
Luce told Kennedy, “A great man is one sentence.” Like President Lincoln, “He preserved the union and freed the slaves” Like FDR, “He lifted us out of a great depression and helped win a world war.” The question she put to Kennedy was “What’s your one sentence?”
At the start of this year, I asked everyone in my Firm to write down their one sentence on a 3×5 index card. It was for them only – no one would read it or ask for it. We ask our clients when they come in to see us, the same thing – “what is going to be their one sentence?”
This exercise takes the whole New Year’s Resolution bit to a new level. It makes you work at defining what you are and what others think you are. Its range is a lifetime – not a year. It is you setting down what you want your legacy to be.
Once you define for yourself what it is you want to be in your life, then everything you do or think can be molded to follow that sentence.
Go ahead. Write your sentence. You will find it is very hard to do. Simplicity in clarity takes hard work. It will require knowledge and insight into you. Once you get there, though, the road to your destiny as a human being is clear as a bell. You also eliminate New Year’s Resolutions for the rest of your life.