What’s the key to making your New Year’s resolutions stick? In this bonus, solo episode, Michelle discusses the origins of starting anew and outlines her five communications resolutions to start the new decade.
So here it is, January, the beginning of a new year, the beginning of a new decade, and I find myself thinking about resolutions. I’ve had a lot of resolutions like most people at the beginning of the year and some of them have actually happened.
I think the ones that I’ve broken into smaller parts and put on my schedule and made a regular part of my life day after day, week after week, those have actually changed my life, but I’ve had plenty of resolutions, like many people, that have not gone anywhere.
And yet, somehow, at the beginning of the year, you just get filled with a sense of optimism, that no matter your past failures, this time, your resolutions really can take hold and make a difference.
I love words and I love the meaning of words. So I thought it would be interesting to look into the meaning of the word “resolve.”
I found out that it means, on its surface, “determination, firmness of purpose” and all that makes lots of sense, but when you dig deeper into the root component parts of the word “resolve”, it gets a lot more interesting.
The “solve” in “resolve” actually traces back to the Latin “resolvere” which means “to loosen” or “to unyolk” or “to undo.” And that seems so appropriate to me because the resolutions that haven’t gone anywhere for me in the past I think has been because I haven’t let go or loosened or gotten rid of things that are in the way of being successful.
And then the “re”, the prefix of the word “resolve”, gets back to the idea of doing something again or once more and, you know, certainly resolutions are something that we do over and over again when we aren’t successful.
So this year, I am committed to loosening or unyolking the things that are holding me back from being successful and that’s why I decided my word for the year for 2020 is “prune” – the verb, not the noun – although the noun could have some interesting applications too.
But the idea is that I need to prune or cut back things in my life that haven’t proven to be very fruitful to make room for other things and as a gardener, this imagery of pruning things in my life really appeals to me and it fits so well with the idea of “resolvere” or unyolking things that are holding me back.
So with that in mind, I’m being selective about my resolutions this year with an eye for not taking on more without cutting back on other things.
Given this podcast’s focus on communications, there are five resolutions for 2020 that I have made that relate to how I communicate that I’d like to share with you.
First one is to really connect. Given that my work requires me to communicate all day long and, very often, all night long with clients and coworkers, it can be hard to find time to connect with friends other than superficially through Facebook.
Given that I have six children who I also communicate with regularly, the time for meaningful connections with friends is really short and hard to come by, but in 2020 I am committed to being intentional about making more time for meaningful connections with friends who are important to me and who I haven’t spent enough time with in the past.
You know who you are. You know I love you and hold me accountable to this resolution. Whether it’s calling on the drive to work or the drive home or when I do my evening walk, I am going to make time to connect with friends who are otherwise not a big enough part of my life right now.
2. Document Special Moments
Alright, number two, documenting special moments but not at the expense of living them. I have noticed that social media has created almost a frenzy of documentation. We feel like we have to capture pictures and video of every moment of our lives to share them with people.
And while it is a wonderful way for people to be invited into my life and to see what’s going on with my family, I feel like it sometimes causes us to miss the moment itself. One of my favorite single moments at Christmas this year was looking down the pew in church where my whole family filled up the pew and seeing my family members holding candles and singing Silent Night.
You won’t see that picture on my Facebook page, I didn’t capture it in a picture, but it is in my heart and it will be there forever. So in 2020, I want to make sure I don’t miss moments like that by being so focused on documenting.
3. Adopt a Mr. Rogers kind of focus
Okay, number three, adopt a Mr. Rogers kind of focus. Multi-tasking is a big part of my work life like it probably is for you, and I rarely have the luxury to just focus on one thing at a time.
I may be having a conversation and answering an email and doing two or three things at once. So it was striking to me to watch the movie “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” and see the level of attention that Fred Rogers gave to the people around him and the things that he noticed because of that level of attention and focus.
I may not be able to do that all the time, but I want it to be a resolution in 2020 that I try to focus on the meaningful moments with people in my life and really tune into them instead of being only halfway there.
4. Support quality journalism with my pocketbook
Alright, number four, I want to support quality journalism with my pocketbook As a student of journalism, I spent my career working with the news media. I was trained as a journalist.
I have not worked as a journalist for most of my career, but I worked with journalists of all of it and it’s scary to me to see the decline and demise of media outlets because of financial pressures.
Nothing is more important to having a vibrant democracy than a thriving free press and what I can do to support that is paying for subscriptions to media outlets that produce quality independent journalism. That’s something I do to some extent. I want to do more of it in 2020 and I encourage all of you to do the same.
5. Continue and improve this podcast
Number five, I resolve to continue and improve this podcast. It was a leap of faith to create “Ubben Talkin’” and I love how it lets me cultivate the interviewing skills that I used early in my career as a journalist, and to talk with some of the really fascinating people that I know in my professional life. This is the one thing I don’t intend to prune.
I hope you’ll stay with me and listen as it gets better and I hope that you will have success with your resolutions in 2020. And you know, remember you have to eliminate some things to make room for others. May you make great choices and happy new year.