Beyond Resolutions: Embrace the Transformative Journey - Inspired by A Christmas Carol & It's a Wonderful Life

Dec 30, 2023 by Anthony Damaschino
Beyond Resolutions - Inspired by A Christmas Carol & It's a Wonderful Life  - The Empty Nest Blueprint
I love New Year's Resolutions. But first, some context.
My favorite holiday movies are A Christmas Carol and It’s A Wonderful Life. I am not unique in having these be my holiday favorites; it’s similar to saying The Shawshank Redemption and The Godfather are your favorite movies; everyone semi-agrees. But why do I like these two movies so much? It is because they each deliver a message I love. With A Christmas Carol, I have always liked Marey’s warnings, the three spirits, and the journey of reflection and rebirth that leads to a second chance. Scrooge gets a do-over as he proclaims, ‘'I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.” *Spoiler Alert* we learn at the end of the movie that he eradicated those chains he forged prior in life. He finds redemption. In It’s A Wonderful Life, we have the same plotline – a spirit, a journey of reflection, a realization of one’s self-worth and love. George Bailey was always the wealthiest man in town, in the currency of life.
Both movies are masterpieces to me. And both explain why I love New Year’s Resolutions. For most, a NYR is a side bet, a plan or promise one makes to themselves. And unfortunately, most resolutions are inevitably broken or forgotten. Because of this, the traditional “I will lose weight, get in shape, learn the guitar, etc.” falls by the wayside as the comfort and routine of old habits set in. For those of us who have made resolutions in the past, we have all fallen pray to not following through.
Perhaps these annual promises of hope we give ourselves fail because, unlike the two movies, we don’t take the time to experience the journey of introspection and reflection an NYR deserves. It’s effortless on New Year's Eve to come up with a few things you’d like to do more or change. However, thinking through your resolution takes much more time and effort. Why do you want to change? What is the true impact of that change or not changing? How will the change benefit you or others in the long run? Exploring this aspect of an NYR may take a little time, but if done well, it can help the change stick.
This year, I will do 75 Hard as my big NYR. It is a 75-day challenge that builds "mental toughness.” Now, 75 Hard isn’t the only NYR or promise to me at the start of 2024, but it’s an excellent example of a resolution versus a goal. For example, a resolution is a statement of what you want to change—losing weight, eating right, or saving money. Conversely, a goal is a statement of what you want to achieve, like writing a second book. I will do both things in 2024; however, the second book is not a resolution.
Every year, for as long as I can remember, I have sat down in late December and tried to think through and plan for the upcoming year. I have habitually created a list of annual goals, which usually focus on a series of topics: financial, personal, developmental, familial, career, etc. There have always been many goals. As for New Year's Resolutions, there usually are just one or two. Although my goal-setting and planning sound admirable, usually, a few goals aren’t achieved, and some resolutions get broken. I tend to be better at goals. But the annual process and follow-through consistently underscore what is essential to me and what isn’t. Each year is a journey and allows me some reflection to help me realize ‘what I think I want to achieve and change’ and ‘what is truly most important to me at my core.’
Like the lessons Scrooge and George Bailey learn, the lesson of a New Year's Resolution is that we each have an opportunity to reset, renew, and grant ourselves grace in any aspect of our lives that we wish to change. Even if we didn’t follow through or make the desired change last year or the numerous years prior, we each get and deserve a chance to change again, whether eradicating chains, realizing we are the wealthiest man in town, or completing 75 hard. A New Year's Resolution is a gift you give yourself - a chance to change something in yourself for yourself or others. I wish you luck and fulfillment with your goals, resolutions, and 2024 journey.