Have you ever made a New Year’s Resolution that you kept?

Interestingly, I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions. I make plans throughout the year, I make goals – short and long-term ones – as I muddle along. I often “resolve” to change something, have a new outlook, approach situations differently. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it does not. Without a big fanfare about it, like a New Year’s Resolution, I think I feel less guilty about changing course.

That being said, I admire people for making resolutions as guideposts. And let’s face it – there are several industries that would collapse if everyone stopped making resolutions. Gyms and weight loss companies have benefitted greatly from the resolution tradition.

One thing that popped into my mind, though, was something that happened many, many years ago. My son was in trouble for something and I was yelling at him. He waited until my rant was done, and then he said, You know mom, I can hear you just as well when you talk as when you yell. Although I did not “resolve” to stop yelling, it most definitely changed the way I approached discussions with my children and, even more so, how I have worked with my students. It has not always been a decision I have followed completely, but it most definitely made a strong and lasting impact.

And that, I believe, is the most important outcome that resolutions can achieve – making a behavioural change takes time and practice. It isn’t “pass/fail” but rather an effort to create lasting results.