At the start of a new year there is always a flurry of talk relating to resolutions or goals for the next 365 days. Some people look forward to the opportunity of starting fresh while others simply see it as a continuation of actions that are already in place.
An ad appeared in the Ottawa Citizen newspaper dated March 16, 1963, for a healing substance known as Preparation H.
Looking back on 2010 definitely calls for healing and productive change to take place in 2011 for many people and that will only come about if we use some “Life” Preparation H. Yes, that is different than ointment or suppositories in a not so popular spot on the body. Okay, moving right along…what exactly is the driving force to cause us to prepare? How do we start?
What is preparation?
Reading one of my favorite books, The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, (you knew I was a nerd, so knowing that a dictionary is in my list of top 10 favorite books shouldn’t be shocking) we learn that the meaning of “preparation” is as follows:
Definition of PREPARATION
1 : the action or process of making something ready for use or service or of getting ready for some occasion, test, or duty
2 : a state of being prepared
Lovely definition, but it also means that we need to understand the word “prepare” which is defined as:
Definition of PREPARE
1 a : to make ready beforehand for some purpose, use, or activity (prepare food for dinner)
2 a : to work out the details of : plan in advance (preparing a campaign strategy)
3 a : to put together : compound (prepare a prescription)
3 b : to put into written form (prepare a report)
Understanding that we have to make ready, put together and work out the details beforehand, does seem like a time that writing down a plan for the future would be a wise decision. It may feel like a monumental task and as dreaded as a colonoscopy, but the process of contemplating, brainstorming and putting those thoughts in written form is absolutely mandatory to accomplishing successful change.
Why Is It Important To Prepare On Paper?
Writing down your resolutions and goals on paper does several things:
- 1. Locks in a commitment. Having a piece of paper with words on it that direct your actions has more credibility and weighting than the fleeting thoughts in our mind. It is very easy for our mind to get off track. Even now while you are reading this post, your mind is not 100% focused on my words because you hear the noise in the background and if you are like me, you are already into the next paragraph. Let’s use another example. If I said that everyone who makes a comment on this post will receive a $100 check, how many people do you think would forget to leave a comment after reading the post? However, what if I said that you would receive a $100 check next year if you come back and leave a comment 365 days from now, how many people would remember to visit this post again without writing down a reminder? Writing down your resolutions and goals will have a powerful effect on your mind with both remembering and committing to action.
- the specific objective
- skills needed to master the plan
- money required
- time investment
- knowledge base
- other resources needed
2. Actions are defined. Let’s take a simple interaction that millions of people have each day. On the way out the door, we say to our spouse or child, “Please make sure your chores are done by the time I get home.” Being the motivated and prepared person in the family, we remind everyone to fulfill their accountabilities and obligations. Then when we get home and find that the chores or part of the chores are not completed, the response from our slothful crowd tends to be something like “I forgot” or “I couldn’t remember what I was supposed to do.” Of course, we do not live in the era of technology, so there was no way to pick up the landline, cell phone or Blackberry to communicate this lapse in memory, but that is beside the point. Just like a “Honey Do List” or “Chore Chart” provides a clear commitment to action, writing down resolutions and goals will define our objectives.
3. Provides a road map and schedule. Would you take a trip to a business meeting without the address of the venue? I highly doubt it. The lack of preparation would most definitely cause you to be late or more likely, never to arrive. The same concept applies to resolutions and goals. Writing down our intended actions provides a clear path with intelligent timing instead of reactions. It gives direction on:
4. Plans are tangible. The written word is a powerful taskmaster and a wonderful means of demanding preparation for change. Seeing the resolution or goals written each day gives them more credence. They are physical and alive with an intended purpose. There is an expectation of accomplishment when we see the words. After an initial writing and as things begin to change, it is important to update the list. Appeal to your own senses. If colorful quotes or poetry inspire you, add it to your writings. The resolutions and goals may be simple, but attaining them requires hard work and planning with attention to the details.
Achieving success is the ultimate goal in everything we do whether it is creating a delicious meal for the family or excelling as the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Everything boils down to commitment and preparation.
We just need to take the advice given in a story in The Miami News newspaper from November 18, 1957. I guarantee that if you Preparation H your life by writing your resolutions and goals, not only will you be relieved of the pain caused by stagnation and lack of success, but it can heal the damage from previous commitments gone awry. However, if you need your hemorrhoids shrunk, you’ll have to buy the ointment from the drugstore.