Resolutions? I really hate them. I don’t like to “resolve” to do anything. It sounds too punitive and formal for me. As a small child, the minute I felt an irresistible force being brought to bear upon me, I would resist with all my might. Oppositional defiant disorder? Maybe. I accept that it is my lot in life to avoid coercion at most costs.
So, instead of resolutions, I prefer to think of my opening thoughts on January 1, or at any time for that matter, as helpful suggestions. When I call them “suggestions”, I find that I am much more inclined to follow them. For example, upon the untimely death of a dear friend a year ago from cancer, I suggested to myself that I should have regular doctor’s visits and mammograms. I have done so ever since. When I learned that I had high cholesterol, I suggested to myself that I go to a nutritionist: with exercise and suggested diet mods, I have brought my cholesterol down more than 30 points.
A year ago this past month, I suggested to myself that I was at a turning point in my career. I had mostly worked for others for lengthy periods, with stints of contract work interspersed throughout. I realized last year that my environment was changing fast and that I needed to change as well – I needed to adapt and evolve. I felt that if I didn’t push the change, then the change would push me and that would feel too much like a resolution or coercion for my tastes.
I began a journey a year ago to self-actualize. I needed to test myself to learn and flow again. I selected the object of this challenge to be the creation and growth of my own small business. I employed any tool I happened upon to the best of my ability. I made mistakes, backtracked and returned by a different route without the benefit of a GPS. Even with these route changes, I cannot believe how far I have come in 12 short months.
I started with minimal knowledge of the web for building and promoting a business. I started by researching other businesses like mine and viewing their promotion efforts. I found sample business plans and the best research tools. I learned how to put together a web page. I figured out how to start and sustain a blog. I moved my blog to a better forum and attended webinars to learn more about how to use the web for rapid information gathering and communication. I subscribed to RSS and even created my own custom RSS feeds and search engines.
I joined Twitter. I beefed up a previously dormant LinkedIn account. I joined Facebook, MySpace, Plaxo, Friendfeed, Seesmic and Plurk. I uploaded documents to JD Supra and learned how to StumbleUpon and socially bookmark with del.icio.us. I have wrangled my way into testing invitations for sites that haven’t yet hit the mainstream.
I have reconnected with old friends and colleagues and have made many new friends. I am impressed on a regular basis by the professionals and media experts I meet. I never fail to learn something new each day that I devote to this task. What started as a simple suggestion to myself has resulted in an adventure I couldn’t have imagined at the start. I didn’t even have the correct language to frame it.
So, what do I do this year? I am not resolving to do anything. I am suggesting to myself that I continue to walk down the open road, wherever it may lead. I will not shrink from the hot seat, the spotlight, the witness stand, the C-suite, the engine room, the board meeting, the dance floor, the center stage, or the helm. I might not pass every test, but I certainly won’t be bored or regretful that I chose to avoid a challenge or opportunity. I never want to look back with sadness based upon inaction. I would rather try and fail.
I haven’t found my breaking point. I suggest that perhaps the only constraint out there is the ceiling I build over my own head. My New Year’s suggestion for this year? I suggest that I avoid placing arbitrary limits upon myself and trust in my ability to succeed. On my own merits. Under my own power. The power of suggestion.