It’s that time of year: New Year’s resolutions are coming to the forefront. Conversations at parties are turning towards personal plans and goals for 2013. Are you going to try the paleo diet? Finally going to work through that bedside stack of books? Run a marathon? Write a bucket list?
I must confess, even my own thoughts are turning to the opportunities of the coming year. How do I want to grow? How do I want to commit myself?
It has become a commonplace to consider the whole idea of New Year’s resolutions as a joke. We often jest about how quickly the commitments of January 1st are set aside and forgotten about. Most people are content if, come February, they can still remember what they said they were going to do.
Rather than the half-joking annual personal commitments, my thoughts turn to official documents that acknowledge situations and assert action.
A quick online search finds various guidelines for writing resolutions, offered by various local governments, councils, and other oversight bodies. This one, from the American College of Emergency Physicians, is simple and focused. It goes into specifics regarding the format, highlighting that there are two essential parts: the Whereas statements, and the Resolved statement(s).
Various Whereas statements provide the rationale for the resolution. They enumerate the current needs, realities, and observations that provide the foundation for the recommended action. The Resolved statement recommends either a change in policy or a specific action step to be taken (or both).
Rather than a half-hearted statement of intent about something that we’d like to accomplish, a real resolution thinks through the circumstances and makes a recommendation for action. It’s not a response to a fad nor is it the fruit of a whim. It’s a reasoned choice, believed to lead to the betterment of the situation.
And more than this, it is not something worked at individually. A resolution is created by committee, and submitted to a committee. It is an embodiment of collective observations and commitments.
When I consider our normal practice of New Year’s resolutions, it seems to be that we miss several of these critical elements. Not only are they weak on real commitment, but they are often lacking in Whereas acknowledgments, and hardly arrived at or aimed at communities of people; they are nearly always individual.
So as I think about 2013, where do I need others to journey along with me? What are the realities–not just in my own life, but in the communities, groups, and associations of which I am a part–which should impel me (and others) to take action, to revise policy, to change the way we operate, to alter the course of our habits?