Resolution? Intention? Resolve!


“May all your troubles last as long as your New Year’s resolutions…”

          –     Joey Adams (1911 – 1999), American comedian and columnist for the New York Post

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”

–     Lyric from Semisonic’s “Closing Time”

The scoreboards reads “0-0” this morning.  The White Board in the conference may well be blank and freshly cleaned.  What’s past is past and today is the first working day of 2020, for most of us.

“What are your new year’s resolutions?” people will ask and answer repeatedly today.  The gym will be packed today and every day for the next two weeks, tailing off until about February 10th, when we’ll be back to parking close enough to auto-start our car from the lobby while we tie our shoes.  Cigarette sales will fall off sharply until about Sunday afternoon, then rebound nicely.  Decaf coffee sales will spike, running shoes will be dug from the back of the closet and church attendance will rise…

Only for a few moments, days or weeks in most cases.

Why is that?

The Difference Between Resolution and Resolve

Because resolve and resolution are two different concepts. tells us that resolve is to “deal with conclusively. To settle; solve…”  On the other hand, resolution is “a formal expression of intention.”

Intentions are great, and they can set us on a course.  Resolve keeps us on course.  We join the Health Club on January 1, with a resolution — the intent to lose “x pounds by June 30,” only to stop going to the gym by about January 23rd because we’re too busy and lack resolve.

The old saying, “the road to Hell is paved with good intentions” is too flippant for my taste.  I prefer concrete examples.

The Road To Hell vs The Highway Home

I had a extremely weak boss once who constantly asked me to assess whether “so-and-so” had bad intentions.  We rarely really know another person’s intentions, so I was left to assess his resolve — behaviors are borne out in resolve — rather than speculate about what he intended.  I’ll never know if ol’ so-and-so had bad intentions.  I can look back at the Health Club metaphor and say with certainty, however that his behaviors made it clear that he wasn’t gonna be on the elliptical or the squat rack tomorrow.  Intentions or not, the resolve was not there.

The Difference Between Intention, Involvement And Commitment

We have to have good intentions, and I bet 99% of us do.

But without the resolve to see things through, our outcomes will be just another resolution — a membership card in our wallet that never gets scanned as our never-gets-skinnier butt drags it around with us.

Replace the gym in the metaphor with the office in real life, and the concept still holds.

Intent is a lot like being involved.  To be resolved is to be committed.  This morning, I had bacon and eggs for breakfast.  The chicken was involved.  The pig was committed. 

Yes, it’s the first work day of a new year.  Fresh intentions will give us hope and energy.  Resolve, commitment and focus will give us the outcomes we’re seeking.

There Is No “Line” in Las Vegas on this matter…

…so I’ll just put my $50 on resolve, and take a hard pass on resolution.


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