Resolutions vs. commitments.
Article Type: Column
Subject: Commitment (Psychology) (Analysis)
Activities of daily living (Social aspects)
Activities of daily living (Psychological aspects)
Author: Fair, David J.
Pub Date: 03/22/2012
Publication: Name: Annals of the American Psychotherapy Association Publisher: American Psychotherapy Association Audience: Academic; Professional Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Psychology and mental health Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2012 American Psychotherapy Association ISSN: 1535-4075
Issue: Date: Spring, 2012 Source Volume: 15 Source Issue: 1
Topic: Event Name: New Year Event Code: 290 Public affairs
Geographic: Geographic Scope: United States Geographic Code: 1USA United States
Accession Number: 282741124

Year after year I make New Year's Resolutions. I usually make at least 10 of them. Lets" see now, I am 65 and have been making resolutions since I was at least 15. That's 50 years of resolutions. If I do 10 each year, that means I have made 500 New Year's Resolutions. I'm guessing that you are much like me. I'm not going to go into how many months, or should I say weeks, that I have stuck with my resolutions. Needless to say that by the end of January, most of us have given up and vow to try it again next year.

The dictionary says a resolution is a "firm decision to do or to not do something." A firm decision sounds pretty weak to me. It's a decision, and we change decisions daily, even hourly. It's no wonder that resolutions seem to have no real staying power. What's that old story about the chicken and the pig? If you are making ham and eggs, it's the pig that really made the full commitment, not the chicken.

Let's look at the definition of commitment as opposed to resolution. The definition of commitment is a "pledge or binding to a certain course or policy." Pledge is an interesting word. We often call the Pledge of Allegiance simply the Pledge. When we recite or say the Pledge, we place our hands over our hearts. One could say that a resolution is a head matter while a commitment is a heart matter. The word bind means to tie or fasten something tightly. That's pretty strong. That's a commitment.

I think it is pretty clear that a pledge is much stronger than a resolution. Perhaps that's why we tend to not keep our New Year's Resolutions. Maybe we should call them New Year's Commitments. As we walk through life, we have plenty of chances every day to make resolutions or commitments about things. I submit to you that resolving to do something doesn't carry nearly the weight of committing to do something. A good example of this is marriage. Two people make a commitment, not just a simple resolution. The minister binds them together under God. I'm not saying that a resolution has no place in life, certainly it does, but I do believe a commitment is the stronger of the two.

What if this year we made commitments, rather than resolutions, and kept at the forefront of our minds the real meaning of the two? I believe that if we really understand commitment then we are going to keep those commitments far better than simple resolutions, which are only strong decisions to do or not to do something.

Do you want to be a man or woman of your word? Do you want to have a good reputation in your family, business, or community? Then I urge you to start making commitments. A commitment is binding. It's the tie that binds. It's a matter of the heart and not the head.

All through the Bible people got into trouble for failing to keep commitments, but those that did keep their commitments were blessed. I want to be blessed. I want that good reputation. So this year I'm going to make 10 New Year's Commitments. Want to join me?

By Chaplain David J. Fair, PhD, CHS-V, CMC

DAVID J. FAIR, PhD, CHS-V, CMC, holds a doctorate in pastoral counseling and psychology from Bethel Bible College and Seminary. Chaplain Fair is director of chaplain services for the Police Protective Fund and the CEO of Homeland Crisis Institute. Chaplain Fair has served at dozens of disasters, including Ground Zero following September 11th, Hurricane Katrina, the NASA space shuttle disaster, Sri Lanka tsunami, the Fort Hood shootings, and the Haitian earthquake.
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