Yesterday, a Facebook friend posted an appreciative comment on another person’s post. The post was a young man’s progress report on his effort to “reboot” himself. He had made the promise to himself a year earlier to reinvent himself through changes in behavior, attitude, and experience. His promise was not unique; he made the usual promises to himself: cut down on the beer, exercise more, read more, be more understanding of others, and so forth. I don’t remember the guy’s name, nor can I find the information simply by looking at my friend’s Facebook page; my internet browser history is no help. And it’s not a problem, either. Because the specifics of the post are not important; the way the guy’s words made me feel are.
For some reason, the writer’s genuine delight at his one year of progress toward becoming a better person was inspirational in ways I can’t begin to describe. Yet, his glee was simultaneously upsetting because I’ve made those promises to myself—recently, in fact—only to break them in short order. But something about this man’s appreciation for his success, and my Facebook friend’s acknowledgement and regard for it, brought me out of my embarrassment to a new place. It brought me to a place that allows me to acknowledge my failures, but to plan my successes. Between now and my birthday, later this month, I will craft both a set of goals for myself and a series of steps I will take to achieve them. Then, on my birthday, I will announce the goals and the process by which I plan to achieve them. My goals will not be solely directed toward improving myself and my life, but the lives of people close to me. At some point in one’s life, the promises one makes to himself must come with consequences for breaking them. So I will make a solemn vow that my birthday this year will either be followed by a joyous celebration one year hence or it will be met with the deserved consequences of failure.
This is not the equivalent of a New Year’s resolution. It’s a new life resolution, a new me resolution, and new happiness-for-those-who-surround-me resolution. It is perhaps the most important resolution I’ve ever made. And it was sparked by an appreciative expression and congratulatory comment on Facebook. Go figure.