I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I have just lived the length of it.
I want to have lived the width of it as well.
– Diane Ackerman –
The definition of resolve is: to reach a decision with purpose: to bring to an end; to settle conclusively. When we resolve to do something, we put our minds to it in an effort to come up with the best possible path to our desired destination. We might resolve to do something ordinary like keep the house cleaner or get up earlier so that we don’t have to rush. Children might resolve to do their homework on time or to become more skilled at a sport. Others resolve to do something extraordinary. In fact, there is a phrase called Big Hairy Audacious Goal (“BHAG”), which originated as a 10-to-30-year goal for a team to progress towards an envisioned future. For example, Google’s BHAG was to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful, and Amazon’s goal was to make every book, ever printed, in any language, all available in less than 60 seconds.
Whether we resolve to do something small or have our own personal BHAG, we have new feelings of commitment that we hope will result in ourselves and the lives of others becoming more functional, remarkable, easier or purposeful. We are motivated to set down guidelines to help us set a course to follow our dreams and reach our goals. Any number of people will tell you about all the times they failed before they succeeded. They will tell you that they didn’t give in to defeat by surrendering to irrational thoughts such as “I can’t do this” or “I won’t succeed”. Very few success stories are simple. Almost everyone who has become known in his/her field has worked hard for that success. If you seek to find their story you will discover that they often had a lot of odds against them. Many came from underprivileged backgrounds, had health and family problems or disabilities that made success seem virtually impossible.
Recently, when the American First Lady Michelle Obama came to Britain with her husband, she visited a London girl’s school. She told the students about how her husband worked at a desk in the Oval office call called the “Resolute” desk. It was made from the timbers of HMS Resolute, an abandoned British ship discovered by an American vessel and returned to the Queen Victoria as a token of friendship and goodwill. She commissioned the desk from William Evenden, Royal Naval Dockyard at Chatham, England, and presented it to President Rutherford Hayes in 1880.
Michelle told the students that the desk is “an enduring symbol of the friendship between our two nations. It is a reminder of the strength of character that’s required not only to lead a country, but to live a life of purpose, as well. And I hope in pursuing your dreams, you all remain resolute, that you go forward without limits, and that you use your talents — because there are many. We are counting on every single one of you to be the very best that you can be. Because the world is big. And it’s full of challenges. And we need strong, smart, confident young women to stand up and take the reins. We know you can do it”.
For some young women today, Michelle Obama will be the person who inspires them. Her paternal great-great grandfather, Jim Robinson, was an American slave in the state of South Carolina, where some of her family still resides. She worked hard as a student to achieve high marks in school, which then enabled her to attend Princeton University, and then she become an attorney. She had strong values about what was right and wrong, and met and married a man who shared those values with her. She was assigned to Barack as his mentor at a law firm. She could not have known at the time that she would become the wife of the president of the United States. Being a minority in America has not yet become an easy thing. We don’t know what obstacles Michelle came up against, but one thing is for sure, she didn’t let those obstacles hold her back.
Some of you who are reading this article have big dreams. For you this article is about being strong, resolving to never allow anything to get permanently in the way of your goals, and having the courage to keep trying when you haven’t been asked, haven’t been selected or haven’t won. For others reading this, life is more complicated. You don’t know what you want. You haven’t discovered what your dreams are. You don’t mind working hard, but you haven’t a clue where you could begin. Or you have children or elderly parents who need you and it is your job to help them. Thus, your dreams are always on the back burner.
Let’s start off with three major principles that will help your resolve before we offer some tips:
- Fuel your resolve with an attitude of abundance and not scarcity. Focus on the blessings you already have, not on what you don’t have. We have written two articles on how to develop an attitude of gratitude which you can read by clicking here.
- When you are on the pathway to your goal, think what you as a person will have to become to achieve your goal. Fortify your resolve by saying powerful affirmations everyday about yourself because you also must operate with an attitude that you are truly worthy of accomplishing your goal.
- What you think and believe can impact your outer world; however, what you see outwardly can also influence your mind set and help you achieve your goals. Everyone knows it is important to write down your goals, however why not make them continuously visual to help them become more achievable? For example, when I had resolved to finish a book I was writing, I put the front cover of the book up onto my bedroom wall and my office wall, a well as on my computer desktop background and screen saver.
A couple of years ago I had a dream of creating an office in my back garden in a natural setting. My resolve was to create a space where I could work undisturbed in a beautiful setting. I visualised every inch of it. First I found pictures and photos of Japanese gardens. Then I cut out pictures of wood cabins and the furniture that would go into it. I blended the images of the elements of nature that would be pleasing to all the senses. There would be bonsai and cherry blossoms trees. It was not difficult to imagine flowering scented climbers such as honeysuckle and jasmine. I could hear the gentle sound of a rock waterfall and wind chimes in my mind. I would strategically place bird feeders to attract beautiful birds that would serenade me with their melodic songs. I wanted a space where my mind would not feel cluttered by the chaos of having too much going on in my everyday life.
Inside the office, I imagined, would be the fresh scent of pine wood, and lavender, aromatic candles. The interior walls would have carefully centred oil paintings of flowers and framed affirmations in calligraphy. The goal would be to create an atmosphere where the people who came into my office would feel like they had entered a safe haven to reflect and feel peaceful.
My dream has become a reality and I now have a little cabin and the early stages of a Japanese garden. It still has a long way to go, but I am happy to say that the flowers are growing, that the wind plays it’s songs on the chimes and a black bird with a golden beak often sings enthusiastically to its mates near by. Here is exactly what it sounds like:
The atmosphere that has been created so far has further strengthened my resolve to persist until I reach my ultimate goal.
Tips for Getting Started On What You Want To Change
- You know what you want to achieve or change in your life, in yourself as a person or as a parent. Put your goal into action now by taking the first step. Walk up the first rung of the ladder. William Hutchison Murray wrote: “Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”
- Work on your goal everyday and if it is a BHAG, break it down into smaller steps with a time frame starting with the first 24 hours, then the next week, the next 30 days, the next three months, 6 months, and finally year(s), depending on your goal.
- Keep a feelings journal. When you are checking your progress on your resolve, it is helpful to write down how you are feeling and what you are doing. Is there anything holding you back that you can identify? Can you do anything about it? Just writing what you are thinking will help you feel better and may shed some light on your path.
- Keep yourself healthy so you don’t become discouraged. Getting enough sleep, exercising and eating properly are probably the most important things to keep your body in good shape to do what your mind and heart wants. Plan to fit these things into your schedule no matter what.
- Share what you are attempting with someone you trust. It is effective to talk to someone who is on your side and to whom you can be accountable to. It could also be a mentor who has the experience to help you improve your techniques for moving forward. Sometimes someone outside your social group is useful such as a counsellor, a coach or a therapist.
- Keep your mind open to learn from everyone and everything. Keep reading, keep talking to people, keep going to new places, and keep your eyes open. You never know who you are going to meet or what you are going to read that will change your perspective in just the way you need. Let yourself evolve.
- Be true to yourself. It’s an old saying, but it’s so important. Plato says, “Know thyself”. Shakespeare says, “To thine ownself be true”. Keep tuned in to yourself. Set that example for your children so that they also learn to have deep confidence in their goals and dreams.
When you get skilled at this, you can better help your child. Mind mapping is a great way to work on goals with your child. Here is a helpful website to get you started. http://www.liftinternational.com/goal_mapping/kids.html
Finally, we always like to conclude with drawing upon the wisdom of animals. Like humans, animals find ways of accomplishing what they set out to do. In ancient lore and in some cultures today, the spirits of animals help guide people to accomplish their goals. The elephant, for example is an animal that has been associated in many cultures with working towards one’s goals. The slow and steady majestic movement of the elephant in itself might help you see yourself moving forward, letting nothing stop you from attaining your dreams. Throughout time the elephant has been honoured for its intelligence and its loyalty to its own kind.
There are references to the elephant in the Bible and in any number of works of literature suggesting the power and strength the elephant has to overcome whatever obstacles are presented to them. Watch these incredible videos. First, a talented and persistent elephant, and second, a patient and devoted elephant.
Once again, if you are working towards helping your child to move in a different direction, he/she might be able to relate to the steadfastness yet graceful elephant. Surround yourself with photos of animals that you enjoy to remind you to never lose sight of accomplishing your goals. As Michelle says… we know you can do it!
Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish. – John Quincy Adams
Thanks for taking the time to read this Monday’s Motivational article.
Please feel free to send me any comments or your own stories you wish to share, or post them on this site by leaving a comment below.