Well, 2017 has flown by. Here we are, at the start of another year. Like Christmas, the New Year fills our hearts with hope and possibility. We make resolutions and plans. We commit ourselves to making this year better than the last. I am looking forward to what the New Year will bring for us.
New Years Resolutions are not a new phenomenon. The ancient Babylonians brought in the New Year with promises to their gods, while returning borrowed items, and clearing their debts. Romans made promises to the god Janus get it, Janus for Janu-ary.
The tradition permeated Christianity too. Knights in the Middle Ages would place their hands on a live or roasted peacock, and recommit themselves to the code of chivalry. Christians held watch night services to bring in the New Year in prayer and commitment to make the next year a better one.
The hard part isnt making plans or resolutions. Its sticking to them. 41% of Americans make a New Years resolution each year (down from 45%). Only 8% of us complete or achieve our resolutions by the end of the year. Only 20% of the people who make New Years resolutions succeed! Sometimes people decide not to make resolutions because theyre afraid they wont complete them. Looking at the numbers, its seems a rational fear. What we dont realize is that the people who do make resolutions, like a resolution to lose weight, are 10 times more likely to succeed than people who want to lose weight but dont make a resolution.
American colonial minister Jonathan Edwards realized the importance of resolutions when he was a young man. When he was 20 years old, he authored 70 resolutions to keep each year for the rest of his life. He wrote, Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without Gods help, I do humbly entreat him by his grace to enable me to keep these Resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to his will, for Christs sake, and added, Remember to read over these Resolutions once a week.
Making resolutions for the New Year is a good thing. Turkish playwright, Mehmet Murat ildan, says, What do you need in the New Year? You need a dream; your dream needs an action; and your action needs right thinking! Without right thinking, you can only have unrealized dreams.! So yes, resolutions are good. The key is determining how to achieve them.
One possible aid was developed in the business world in 1981. George T. Doran, a former Director of Corporate Planning for Washington Water Power Company, published a work called, Theres a S.M.A.R.T. Way to Write Managements Goals and Objectives, introducing SMART goals. SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Assignable, Realistic, and Time-related.
First, we want our resolutions to be Specific. For example, losing weight, is less specific than, I will lose 10 pounds. In the case of Illinois, instead of We will pass a balanced budget, a specific resolution might be, We will pass a balanced budget without increasing income or property taxes. Its definitely a fair resolution. Illinois has the highest total tax burden for the average family more than any other state in the country.
How do we make a resolution Measurable? Quitting smoking is a specific resolution. However, some folks can quit cold turkey, while others struggle. For the latter, a more measurable resolution could be quitting smoking by reducing the number of cigarettes smoked each week until getting to zero. For the state, the balanced budget resolution could be measured by committing to progress benchmarks throughout the session.
Most resolutions are easily Assignable. Theyre our resolutions after all. But some involve working with other people. Resolving to improve a family relationship relies, at least in part, on the family members participation. In order to achieve a state level resolution for a balanced budget without new income or property taxes, we will cultivate both Democrats and Republicans to create a bipartisan commitment to generate whatever bill or amendments to achieve it.
The crux of achieving any resolution is whether it is Realistic. For many people, becoming a vegan may be an unrealistic goal, especially if they have always enjoyed flavored creamer in their coffee, and eggs for breakfast. Balancing a budget in Illinois without additional income or property taxes will be tough. For some it may seem unrealistic. But it is the right thing to do.
Time-related sounds like something that would be easy. A resolution for the next year is pretty self-explanatory regarding time. Consider a person who wants to lose 10 pounds over the next year. The goal is to have lost 10 pounds by the end of 2018. Perhaps they have large family gatherings over Thanksgiving and Christmas and enjoy Grandmas homemade banana pudding. That person may find it harder to lose .84 pounds in November and December. They could adjust the timing of their resolution to lose 10 pounds by October, and work not to gain weight in November and December.
The budget bill the state passed last year did not pass in regular session. Several special sessions were called before it passed. Supporters of a resolution to pass a balanced budget without additional income or property taxes should maximize the time we have to climb every step necessary to attain our goal.
It was Abraham Lincoln who said, Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other. I look forward to helping our state achieve a balanced budget without raising our income or property taxes. I wish you success in achieving your resolutions in 2018 and a very Happy New Year!