December 31, 2007

The Meaning Behind Resolution

From the Miriam Webster Online Dictionary (emphasis mine):

Main Entry:


Function: noun

Etymology: Middle English resolucioun, from Anglo-French or Latin; Anglo-French resolucion, from Latin resolution-, resolutio, from resolvere

Date: 14th century

1: the act or process of resolving: as a: the act of analyzing a complex notion into simpler ones b: the act of answering : solving c: the act of determining d: the passing of a voice part from a dissonant to a consonant tone or the progression of a chord from dissonance to consonance e: the separating of a chemical compound or mixture into its constituents f (1): the division of a prosodic element into its component parts (2): the substitution in Greek or Latin prosody of two short syllables for a long syllable g: the analysis of a vector into two or more vectors of which it is the sum

2: the subsidence of a pathological state (as inflammation)

3 a: something that is resolved ; "made a resolution to mend my ways"; b: firmness of resolve

4: a formal expression of opinion, will, or intent voted by an official body or assembled group

5: the point in a literary work at which the chief dramatic complication is worked out

6 a: the process or capability of making distinguishable the individual parts of an object, closely adjacent optical images, or sources of light b: a measure of the sharpness of an image or of the fineness with which a device (as a video display, printer, or scanner) can produce or record such an image usually expressed as the total number or density of pixels in the image <a resolution of 1200 dots per inch;

synonyms see courage

It isn't often that a dictionary entry can evoke me to sit and write down my thoughts about it. You see, I have ALWAYS made resolutions on New Years as often as I can remember. It was just something we did. A tradition. Not often did I ever KEEP my resolutions, though... and that seemed to be just as much of a tradition as making them.

As I have gotten older, I still make 'resolutions', but I have begun to think of them in different terms. Let's break it down according to the definition, shall we?

1. the act of resolving -
You have to choose to change if you see an area in your life that needs to be fixed. There has to be a choice - so in this sense, I'm in total agreement with having 'resolution'.

1a. the act of analyzing a complex notion into simpler ones -
Here is where I think many people that make New Years resolutions fail. We start off with a grand idea (like loosing 20 lbs. or learning Italian) and we never stop to break it down into SMALL ATTAINABLE STEPS. Simplifying the process breeds the success that we are after. Wouldn't you agree? Just because you haven't lost the 20 lbs. at the end of your first week into 2008 doesn't mean you can give up and start eating desert every day because 'you are doomed to fail'. That is stinkin' thinkin'. Likewise, having desert ONCE doesn't mean you are "off the bandwaggon"... therefore excused from TRYING to eat right the rest of the year, either. The key to this step is "analyzing" - what is probable and possible and HOW can you make forward progress without giving up?

1b. the act of answering: solving -
While a resolution will not SOLVE your problem, the CONTINUED resolve to take steps towards keeping true to your goal WILL. Eventually, if you keep in stride with your small daily goals... you'll find that you HAVE made positive steps. So what if you resolve to loose 20 lbs. and by December 31st of 2008 you have only lost 10? At least you lost some! Without the resolve and the small goals... you wouldn't have had the direction and purpose that helped you stay on track.

1c. the act of determining -
Most people won't keep a resolution. That is just a fact of life. Just look at me - I NEVER have. However, at different times in my life (other than January 1st) I have overcome HUGE issues because I ...

#1 prayed about it
#2 determined to choose God's path for my situation
#3 asked others to hold me accountable
...and #4 kept trying even when I messed up on occasion.

3a & b. something that is resolved "made a resolution to mend my ways" ... firmness of resolve -
Making a resolution that lines up with what God purposes for you will ensure success if you rely on His power to accomplish it. After all, if you had the power to magically fix it, you wouldn't need to make it a New Years Resolution, now, would you? Chances are if you are wanting to change, you know that there is an area of your life that you lack control (food, smoking, drinking, saving money, habits, faults...) or that you lack knowledge (learning something new, travel...). Seeking the help and wisdom you need from the Lord should be your first step towards accomplishing your 2008 resolutions. Choose to seek the Lord's help this year to keep you on the steady path uphill towards meeting your goals.

5. the point in a literary work at which the chief dramatic complication is worked out -
Wow. There's a sermon in there, somewhere. First I'd like to note the word "literary". Keeping a written journal of your resolutions and goals, your prayers, and the steps you take to get to the finish line is a great way to track your progress. Not only tracking, but journaling also reminds you how far you have come and gives you inspiration - and a place to memorialize your victory! I say victory because if you go so far as to keep a record of your struggle... and you start with the Lord, YOU WILL succeed. That means your "chief complication is worked out". Success can be the "resolution" of your New Years Resolution.

6a. the process of making distinguishable the individual parts of an object... -
When you set out to accomplish your goal and break it down into small steps, each step should be distinguishable from the next.

Here's an example: Say I want to be a better friend (a goal that wouldn't hurt any of us, right?). However, it doesn't happen over night that I magically turn in to a great friend if I haven't been really connected to people like I want to be already. I have to set some individual goals first... like:

1. calling people
2. writing people
3. visiting people
4. having people over for dinner
5. praying for people
6. taking dinner to someone who's sick

As I look at next year's calendar, I can set realistic goals with those smaller goals in mind so that I can SEE my progress as I work towards my LARGER goal - being a better friend. Sometimes we miss our large goals only because we make them out to be this mystical eagle's nest that we can never reach. Seeing the "distinguishable individual parts" of our goal is necessary to stay progress.

And finally, did you notice that Resolution is synonymous with courage? Courage is being strong despite hardships (also from Merriam Webster on courage: "firmness of mind and will in the face of danger or extreme difficulty"). So resolutions aren't easy - they are extremely difficult. Choosing to FIGHT to reach your goals shows COURAGE!

Am I going to make New Years Resolutions for 2008? You bet. They aren't very different from the goals I set at the beginning of the school year (aside from getting off the holiday fat and a few more extra pounds that have crept up this past year). The fact that my goals are "ongoing" shows that they are tall mountains that can't be scaled easily. I'm praying that next year I can look back at this post with a smile... and to see my goals on a list in my planner - CROSSED OFF and completed. I'm hoping God keeps me 'resolved' and guides my feet as I walk each day towards victory.

How is that for a resolution? Victory in 2008!

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Unknown said...

The problem with resolving to do something is the resolution itself lacks any plan. My clients use QuickPlanner Plus to take their resolutions and turn them is strategic life plans. Resolve to resolve differently in 2008.

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed this post. It gave me pause to sit back and analyze the resolutioins I've been contemplating for myself and figure out how I am actually going to accomplish them. Enjoyed your blog!

Anonymous said...

Excellent post, Sprittibee. Of course, you will always catch my attention with definitions and etymology. And the etymology is interesting:

c.1374, from L. resolvere "to loosen, undo, settle," from re-, intensive prefix, + solvere "loosen" (see solve). Same sense evolution as in resolution. The noun meaning "determination" is first recorded 1592.

Breaking down our plans to "be better" into its component parts? And having the courage to see them through?

Lynn Bruce said...

From one Queen Bee to another -- Brava!

This was very helpful to me. I've been thinking deeply about this word, too, and like you, was also prompted to write a blog post about it.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us, and happy new year from our beehive to yours!

Anonymous said...

Good post, girl! I'm linking this in one I'm writing.

Anonymous said...

GREAT POST! And while it is so enlightening, it just makes my writing my resolutions even harder. *L* Kidding!

I've resolved not to write down any resolutions this year anyway. Dealing with every day positively is an act of courage in itself. The more I make the most of my everyday, the more my 2008 will be brighter.

Happy happy '08!



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