Gentlemanly New Year Resolutions (Part 1 of 2):
Resolve to Know Thyself in 2012
by Teah Strandjord
As the clock winds toward midnight on December 31st, the ball drops in Times Square, and you scour the room for the lips on which you’ll plant your New Year kiss, it’s without question that you’ll be asked, “What are your New Year’s resolutions?” I think you should knock people’s hook+ALBERT Peruvian Pima Cotton socks off with resolutions that show not just the gentleman you are, but the gentleman you continue to work at becoming. But before you make this list, take some time to reflect on this question, which was the title of an article in the Harvard Business Review, “How Will You Measure Your Life?”
Let’s Step This Resolution Stuff Up a Notch
How will you measure your life? In sips of brandy, in miles flown, in weights lifted? It’s easy to focus on the goals we all have in one form or another (or so says the website USA.gov). Get a raise, lose weight, stop smoking, get organized, floss more often. These are important goals of course, but a gentleman thinks bigger, asking: What about the bigger picture? Why do we make these goals? What about the discovery of life’s purpose? And what will serve you better in the long run: an organized sock drawer or a clear understanding of what it is you live for?
As they say in Latin "Cemel Dosce" (Know Thyself)
|Michael Angelo's David, who needed the
right tools to defeat Goliath.
According to the Harvard Business School (HBS) professor who wrote the article, he promises his students that, “… if they take the time to figure out their life purpose, they’ll look back on it as the most important thing they discovered… If they don’t figure it out, they will just sail off without a rudder and get buffeted in the very rough seas of life.” In the rough seas of life I'm not sure there is much an organized sock drawer or plaque-free molars can do for you. Understanding how you measure your life, however, can. So work first on honing your directional tools, then make your list of resolutions, and you’ll be one of the few to actually succeed at accomplishing the noble things you set forth to do (flossing included).
Many of you might be ten steps ahead, having already discovered your life’s purpose and ready to b-line for resolution making (yay you!). For those who admit they haven’t defined this purpose yet, I know it’s no easy task, and it might be a life-long endeavor. But to reach a meaningful conclusion in the next few weeks, here are some suggestions to get you started:
- Schedule reflection time
- Recall your childhood dreams, and watch this video (Randy Pausch Last Lecture: Achieving Your Childhood Dreams)
- Look to your community: family values, religious principles, academic creeds
- List your heroes, idols, and mentors, then define the qualities that make them such
- Watch some TED Talks that interest you, perhaps your purpose is in there somewhere
After you define your life purpose you can begin to make a list of your New Year resolutions based upon a newfound way of looking at your goals. If you define that your life purpose is to help educate children in 3rd world countries, you might swap “master snowboarding” for “book a flight to Rwanda”. Or perhaps your purpose is to be Dad of the Year, in which case "win the state poker tournament" might be replaced with "sign up to coach Little League".
At the end of the year, the beginning, or somewhere in the middle, a gentleman should never stop asking himself: how will you measure your life? In pounds, dollars, puffs of smoke, socks, cars, adventures? In love? 525,600 minutes in a year, and you get to choose. As you make that decision and seek your purpose, remember the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson: “To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children...to leave the world a better place...to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”
And now I can’t wait to hear your answers:
How do you measure your life?
Next week: 2012 Gentlemanly Resolution Must-Haves
Gentlemanly New Year Resolutions (Part 2 of 2): →
← A Gentleman Gives the Toast
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