• David Unger, PhD

New Year's Resolution


I am not big on New Year’s resolutions as I have seen many of mine fade away all too soon. I suppose just since my batting average is not very good I ought not to give up. Sorry to mix metaphors so soon but it was Wayne Gretzky who said “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”


So I guess even though I have missed following through on a lot of the New Year’s resolutions, I haven’t missed all. I could choose to celebrate that sometimes my efforts do pay off instead of focusing on those that missed their mark. I have to tell you, I am not a good learner in this regard. I don’t do well with those missed shots. I like to make my shots and instead of cheering myself on for taking a shot I am more apt to be upset with myself for missing it. Having that aversion to making mistakes/failing/falling short of my hopes and expectations has not made learning easy for me.


Bit by bit over the years I have become more accepting of those things I don’t do as well as I would like. My first instinct is still to avoid the circumstance. But, fortunately I now know perfectionism is a direction not a goal and I encourage myself to open up to being a learner, a beginner, a person.


I do feel some shame for acknowledging my self-imposed unrealistic expectations. Yet, I also take refuge in a New York Times Bestseller titled Mindset by Carol Dweck, PhD that says I am not alone. I have a fixed mindset which tells me I'm not good at math, speaking a foreign language, understanding technology or anything else that I don’t naturally embrace. I basically talk myself out of giving myself a chance to improve. According to Dr Dweck I need to learn the value of effort. I need to reward myself for attempts made and not ding myself for my lesser efforts. All effort is good. Some is better than others, but they all beat out no effort. Perhaps she's a Gretzky fan.


Even a half-hearted effort can yield rewards, but it is up against itself. Most times when we do things with a half-hearted spirit we are destining ourselves to under achieve. But, we retain the excuse of not having given more of ourselves. Of course, while excuses can help protect us from the truth, they do not eliminate it. If you want to get better you need to effort better. It's pretty plain and simple, but not so easy to manifest. It takes effort. Also patience. And a willingness to not give up just because things are not going quite the way you want.


If you (and me) can learn to value the effort and put less emphasis on the evaluation of that effort we will have a better chance of actually getting into the flow of what we are doing. The more focused we can be on just doing an activity and not looking over our shoulder and judging and criticizing ourselves the more likely we are to want to do something again. And that is called effort.


So, even though I am not that great at following through on my New Year’s resolutions I am going to make one. I am going to effort more at being less judgmental about my efforts and more supportive of my endeavoring.



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