This time of year, you can hardly escape discussions and articles about New Year’s resolutions. While resolutions are good for defining aspirations, they are notorious for being broken and forgotten within a few weeks. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying that you shouldn’t set resolutions. I think they can be a great starting point for personal and professional goals. You may even be declaring resolutions to help improve the patient experience. These could be things like: being more consistent with daily rounds, having more meaningful individual coaching sessions, practicing mindfulness daily or a multitude of tasks.
If you want your resolution to stick, resolve to take specific actions. There’s a big difference between the words resolution and resolve. One is a noun, the other is verb. A noun, by definition is a person, place or thing. Resolution is a noun – a thing. A verb, on the other hand is a word that implies action. To resolve is to commit. That is the action and commitment behind a resolution.
The secret to making resolutions stick is forming habits and resolving to take action. The truth is, this is where it all falls apart. You want something to happen but don’t take specific actions to ensure success.
When coaching a group of nurse leaders a few months ago, they brought the distinction between resolution and resolve to the fore. Virtually everyone in the room said they wanted to make their rounds more consistently. The problem was that their time got gobbled up with meetings. Because their organization had calendar-sharing, people wanting to schedule meetings could pull up your name and see if you were free or booked. Seeing nothing in a time slot, it was open for anyone to fill or at least invite you to a meeting. The end result was that the nurse leaders were trying to do rounds during the time that was left over. This thinking was backwards. If rounding was a top priority, it should be scheduled first. Otherwise it’s like trying to make a gourmet meal with table scraps.
The outcome of this discussion was that they all resolved to carve out rounding time first on their schedules. Taking that simple action was the path to helping them to achieve their resolutions. The other thing is to recognize in advance that you will slip. Accept it, spot it, and get back on task quickly. There is no merit in beating yourself up when you slip. Just get back in the saddle immediately and let it go.
So go ahead and make resolutions. But remember it takes resolve to make them stick. Plan ahead.