A Transformation Attitude

by Katrina Goodrich

“An exceptional future can only be built on the transformation of the mess I’ve made, not the elimination of it.”

― Craig D. Lounsbrough

Christmas is over. The holly jolly holidays have ended. In an effort to continue the merriment and bring enthusiasm in to a new year, many people make New Year’s resolutions. I am not one of those people. There have been years when I’ve thought about making a resolution, but I just couldn’t decide what to choose to commit to doing or not doing for an entire year — or really if I’m honest, even to the end of January. So I don’t make resolutions.

Many people do make resolutions, though, and they might last through the end of January or a few months and then the new shiny year wears on and the resolution is broken or forgotten until it’s time to make a new one. I’m certain if I ever got around to making a resolution, I would be this sort of person.

Then there are those rare folks who make a resolution and stick to it. I typically like to classify these people as “type A” who just add it to their schedule and are good to go. But that isn’t always the case. So why do they succeed where many fail or never even get started?

It’s possible that the reason many of our well intentioned resolutions fail is because we view them as a way to eliminate a “mess” we’ve made. A way to eliminate imperfections. The word “elimination” carries a connotation that something will be quick, and perhaps not easy, but done over a shorter period of time. To me a year doesn’t seem a short period of time. Though we may be thinking long term, it’s easy to get discouraged when we don’t see instantaneous results that are not realistic — but we hoped for subconsciously or consciously.

We are prone to the “mess-up equals give-up” circumstance. Often we view mistakes, slip-ups, or setbacks as failure. When something goes wrong in these types of personal situations we give up, because we’ve supposedly eliminated this mess. But it’s not really gone and when we realize the mess is still present in our lives that means we screwed up — doesn’t it? From that perspective we are defeated.

Those who are successful at making resolutions might be more prone to having a transformation attitude rather than an elimination attitude. Transformation is typically associated with a process that may take time. It isn’t a finished work, not every variable is known, and sometimes things may get a little bit “messy.” It’s okay if there are imperfections because eventually they will be ironed out in the process. Transformation reminds me of tempering iron: there is a series of heating and cooling steps that removes impurities eventually yielding a masterpiece — it takes time and repetition to get it correct.

Goals and resolutions are much like this.

Most of us (yes, even those “type A” folk) can’t decide to make life changes and then just go cold turkey or automatically insert a new behavior into our life seamlessly. It takes time and practice and we might not get it every time. You don’t go from running zero miles a day to running five miles a day. Sometimes sleep is more important than exercise. You can be “more organized” and have your desk cleaned off one day only to have it completely messed up by the end of the week. I’ve not even begun to factor in kids. Even if things are finally spotless, children in the vicinity mean five minutes later, it isn’t. Sometimes things just go wrong. But if you are looking at things from a transformation viewpoint, it isn’t the end of the world (or your resolution), it’s merely another step in the transformation process.

Changing your thinking to a more transformative attitude may be the thing to free you from the guilt of broken resolutions. You can actually stick to your New Year’s resolution this year. A broken resolution does not happen until you give up on it.

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