Goals, not resolutions, may lead to improvement in '07

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Ray Bowden
  • 49th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Other than resolving to never make a New Year's resolution, I've never made a New Year's resolution.

I'd rather be goal-driven than resolution-driven, as anyone can resolve to do something. I often wonder how many of us actually follow through with these half-hearted promises. Few people I know take any New Year's resolution seriously, particularly if they happen to be the person making it.

Anything in life worth accomplishing is achieved by setting goals, not resolutions. America did not merely resolve to win the Revolutionary War; we fought for victory hook, line and sinker and created a new nation with a constitution unlike any other. Wilber and Orville Wright did not simply resolve to fly; they experimented until they were finally airborne over Kitty Hawk. President Kennedy did not resolve for the United States to be the first country to send a man to the moon; he supported space research like no other president. And finally, America's Airmen did not blithely resolve to forge the best air force in the world; we became the best over the last 59 years because we practiced what we preached and adhered to a set of values resulting in the achievement of extraordinary mission goals more often than any other air force. The results of goals are quantifiable; the results of resolutions are as transient and ephemeral as coastal fog.

At first glance, the difference between resolutions and goals may seem like semantics, but think about it.

Our society is crammed with people content to allow their lives to be governed by resolutions followed by excuses for not seeing these decrees to fruition. We apparently feel any excuse, no matter how irrational or on-the-fly, automatically absolves us from remaining true to our resolutions.

How many of us have witnessed a terminally late co-worker resolve in front of all to never be late again and then, the following day, rush into work 30 minutes late, lobbing fatuous apologies toward anyone with an ear canal, usually along the lines of "Sorry, slept in" or "I need a new clock" or "My dog had a myocardial infarction?" How many of us happen to be that co-worker?

What about the F-117A crew chief who resolves to be a better team leader and 24 hours later leaves a pile of bolts scattered across the tarmac after closing an access panel?

Or what about the public affairs NCO who resolves to be a better editor but then misspells the command chief's name in a base newspaper article read by 7,500 people?

Until we act on our resolutions by setting a series of goals to see them through, we'll be in the same spot next New Year's Eve, still resolving to improve ourselves in some ill-defined way that no one, particularly ourselves, will take seriously.

We may as well make our New Year's resolutions on Ground Hog's Day as the hefty rodent's shadow is oftentimes far more substantial than any nebulous New Year's proclamation we casually toss about.

As we begin another year, we may be prone to making lofty affirmations we know we'll never come close to achieving. Maybe this is to "keep up with the Jones" or assuage the guilt and self-loathing incurred from our failure to make last year's declarations a reality.

No one I'm aware of makes ground hog resolutions, but maybe we should start; the groundhog shows his shadow only half of the time, which would give us a 50-50 split when it comes to keeping Ground Hog's Day promises. At least then we'd have an excuse for failing to live up to our own expectations.

Concentrating on goals seems a more appropriate call to action than focusing on resolutions if we're at all serious about improving ourselves for one simple reason: goals are harder to justify breaking.