“We will either find a way or make one.”
On Thanksgiving, my nine-year-old nephew kindly asked for the wishbone while the turkey was being carved and proceeded to engage me in a battle of the wishes. Like most uncles would have done, I closed my eyes and took advantage of the opportunity to wish for good health and continued blessings for my nephew – more of a prayer than a wish. He closed his eyes too and wished for God knows what. He ended up winning the wishbone match, and I could tell by his smile and wide eyes that he truly expected his wish to come true – and sooner rather than later. If I know my nephew, he probably wished for the most expensive remote control car on the market because he kept asking if we had batteries, just in case his wish didn’t come with any.
I can’t help but remember this little story as I now reflect on the millions upon millions of Americans who have ritualistically just set out on their annual journeys toward accomplishing their New Year’s resolutions. I wonder how many resolutions were made by haphazardly yanking on one end of the proverbial wishbone and simply wishing their dreams come true. According to a recent CNN Health Report, about 30 percent of people making resolutions who were surveyed in one study say “they don’t even keep them into February. And only about 1 in 5 actually stay on track for six months or more.” With odds like that, my nephew has a better chance of getting the remote control car.
What we sometimes fail to realize is that resolutions can be life changing – if we allow them to be. Even the ever-popular “goal” pales in comparison. When we resolve to do something – either personally or professionally – we make up our mind once and for all. That’s extremely powerful. Those of you with a steely resolve enjoy a type of determination that all but ensures your success. It’s what inspired Hannibal to proclaim to his troops as they set out on their legendary march from New Carthage: “We will either find a way or make one.” Now you’re on a mission. You’re focused and ready to do what must be done. Period.
Despite the staggering number of those who fall by the wayside, countless others have lost weight, quit smoking, and become more organized (top three year after year). Lives are changed, discoveries made, books written, broken relationships mended – all because of resolutions. The greatest contributions to mankind have come about as the result of the hard work and dedication of people “resolved” to making a difference.
The truth, however, is that the effort required to make the changes in our lives that support these resolutions is substantial, and that effort must be fueled by more than a wish. Resolutions involve a profound understanding of why they’re important, why they must be accomplished, and what it takes to accomplish them. In and of themselves, resolutions are meaningless if they are not carried out. They require commitment, and that is where passion comes into the picture.
Passion drives us to take action – and action is the only thing that will net results. Taking action strengthens our self-esteem and confidence, which help to keep the wheels turning. Passion also fuels our reasons, which in turn strengthens our resolve, ties our actions together and gives meaning to our efforts. And once you understand the meaning behind it all, you’re practically unstoppable.
What are you passionate about? I encourage you to take some well-deserved time by yourself and reevaluate your resolutions in the light of this question. It doesn’t matter what anybody else thinks. Passion requires no external justification. Your honest answer will be right for you, and that’s what matters. By all means, write everything down. You’ll be amazed with what you come up with. There’s something about putting your thoughts on paper that opens your mind and heart, revealing the passion inside.
Next, write down your resolutions – and be specific. The worst thing you can do is be vague. If your resolution reads, “I want to be a better person”, you might as well reach for the wishbone. Make sure your resolutions are clear and well-defined. Then after each resolution, write down at least three strong reasons for attaining them. If you want something bad enough to do what it’s going to take to accomplish it, you need to understand why.
Finally, prioritize your list and start developing an action plan for achievement. Write down concrete steps you can take to turn your resolutions into reality and start taking action right away. Remember, you have just resolved to do it. And do it you will. With passion, understanding and determination you will find a way. Or make one.
Manny García-Tuñón is a columnist for El Nuevo Herald and president of Lemartec, an international design-build firm headquartered in Miami.