• Paula English

Setting up for failure

"I don't believe in New Year's resolutions. It's just a set up for failure" says my friend. Being someone whose opinion I respect implicitly, I had asked about her resolutions for the new year. I was actually expecting something a little more commanding. It surprised me to hear the vulnerability of 'failure' lurking in the possibilities coming from one of the most take charge people I know. Her confidence and faith have been a buoy in many a storm. Her words left me in a silence. Thinking.

I'm not suggesting that by simply not making new year's resolutions, it implies negativity or lack of confidence. It was really the word failure that pulled the trigger. Failure defined: 1. an act or instance of failing or proving unsuccessful; lack of success: His effort ended in failure. The campaign was a failure. 2. nonperformance of something due, required, or expected: a failure to do what one has promised;

To me, success or lack thereof is totally dependent on the finish line. Doing or achieving x by a specific date sets a pretty hard finish line. And, sometimes that is a great motivator. Sometimes, for some people in some situations.

On the other hand, as a confidant for many, that finish line off into the future is often 'when' they will be happy, successful, recognized, finally there. So today is not that. Today is not happy, successful, worth recognizing, yet. Maybe that is what my friend meant. That is what feels like failure. Until we have 'made it' - we haven't made it. Until we reach the finish line, we hang in the balance with failure looming. I really have a hard time living like that.

Setting our goals into the future may inspire vision. I think about when I ran my first 5K. If I hadn't set my intention, I wouldn't have been able to train for the event and then show up to do the thing. Without setting intention for the future, we wouldn't need 5 Steps for Strategic Business Planning. I think it IS a really good idea to plan and arrange for the future. I think the clearer we are about who we are becoming, the more likely we are to see that reality.

So where is the middle ground? For me this is where the message of Buddha and Christ intersect. Being content today and having hope for tomorrow. I love the idea of getting better. Better and better. I hope I am an ongoing project of enlightenment, understanding and joy. That is my constant resolution. In the new year, the new month, the new day, the new moment. Keeping the finish line close.

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