Aspirations – Not Resolutions

By Cindy Leyland

It’s Monday, January 1, 2018.  At 12:32 am. 
It’s well after 10:00 pm and I’m still awake.  Another New Years’ Resolution bit the dust.  Again. 
I don’t really make resolutions; instead, I envision aspirations.  Aspirations that I repeat daily. 
Core value aspirations such as:

  • I will be impeccable with my word.

  • I will make no assumptions.

  • I will take nothing personally.

  • I will always do my best. 

    (compliments to The Four Agreements)

Specific aspirations such as:

  • I will be in bed by ten o’clock every night and rise at seven o’clock each morning.

  • I will greet the day with a smile and anticipation of good things happening.

  • I will honor my body by filling it with nutritious foods and beverages and exercising some part of my body to the extent allowed. 

  • I will rest when my body needs rest.

  • I will surround myself with loving, well intentioned other human beings.

  • I will share at least one gift with one person every day (compliments of 29 Gifts). 

You get the gist, right?  I want to be a better version of me tomorrow than I was today.  Some days, I claim victory; others, not so much. 
But this is the first day of a new year.  Many people get excited about changing their lives and mark the new year with a list of New Year’s resolutions.  We resolve to lose weight, save money, be nicer to our family, quit smoking, start volunteering in the community – out with the bad and in with the good!  I choose to believe all these resolutions are made in good faith – faith that we can do these things, faith that the time is right with the new year, faith that the God(s) will see our changes – or at least our family – and be heartened by the new US. 
Unfortunately, although humans have been making New Year’s resolutions for about 4,000 years, the stick-to-it-iveness (is that a word?!) just doesn’t … well, stick for many of us.  In fact, research tells us that less than ten percent of people are successful in sticking to their resolutions. (1) 
I used to plant flowers in the front yard every spring, with absolute certainty that I would water them, weed them and tend to them daily so that in the middle of summer I would have a beautiful array of blooms, colors and fragrances.  Inevitably, by the middle of June, there were more weeds than flowers, what flowers were present were obviously parched, and I daily encountered a clear sign of my uselessness, my utter failure to do anything right, why do I even bother…on and on and on with the stinking thinking. 
Finally, one spring, I decided to be honest with myself.  I love beautiful flowers.  I love fragrant flowers.  Tending them?  I don’t love that part so much. So why did I continue to torture myself? I resolved at that point NOT to plant flowers. Instead, I aspired to enjoy my neighbors’ beautiful flowers, to get a few bouquets throughout the summer to place inside the house, and to be grateful for all those people who love to garden and gain satisfaction from that work.  I’m not one of those people. 
So why do we even bother with making resolutions?  Aren’t we just setting ourselves up to fail? I don’t think so.  Emrys Westacott wrote that New Year’s resolutions represent the “triumph of hope over experience." (2)  We want our lives, yea, even ourselves, to be better.  And that’s why I choose the word aspiration over resolution
Every day, I aspire to be a better version of myself than I was yesterday.  I look at the roles in my life:  wife, mother, grandmother, sibling, friend, employee, consumer, advocate, citizen, and I try to commit to being the best I can in each of those roles at the exact moment I don that hat.  As The Four Agreements instructs us to Always Do Your Best, it also acknowledges that your best on Monday may not be the same as your best on Tuesday.  But do the best you can at that particular moment. 
Aspire to greatness.  Your greatness. 
So how about you?  Did you make any resolutions for 2018?  Do you have resolutions you would like to offer to the writers and editors of this page?  Let us hear from you in the comments below. 


  1. Why Do We Make New Year’s Resolutions?

  2. New Year’s Resolutions Always Disappoint, So Let’s Try Something Else

Cindy Leyland is ProHealth's Fibromyalgia Editor.  Cindy also serves as the Director of Program Operations at the Center for Practical Bioethics and the PAINS Project Director. She lives in Kansas City with her husband, enjoys hiking, reading, and being Gramma Cindy.

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