Resolve over Resolution 

It’s almost trendy for people to say that they don’t make resolutions and rightfully so, as we’re overwhelmingly likely to abandon those resolutions by mid-February.

Resolutions are external statements that we typically bring up at cocktail parties. Conversely, having resolve is taking a raw, honest look at a situation and saying, “I am going to take steps to change it.”

As we reflect on 2020, there’s a lot to be said about the benefits of leaning in to adaptability. To be adaptable means having the capacity to adjust to new conditions.To say that this year has been a collection of new conditions would be an understatement. To claim having the capacity on most days might even be a stretch. We’ve spent copious amounts of time figuring out our definitions of a new normal, and rolling with the emotions elicited by global and racial pandemics, only to come full circle where the only certain thing is still uncertainty.

Around this time, we usually talk about what we’re leaving in the past  year, but I’d like to engage you in a bit of a plot twist. Instead of throwing the whole year away, as we’ve seen in memes, consider what you’d like to take with you into 2021. Notwithstanding the pain, grief, and anguish of the last few months, you’ve undoubtedly chosen gratitude as your focus more days than not if you’re reading this right now.

There were so many inconveniences that made life uncomfortable. Milestone celebrations were cancelled, missed, and altered. Sad news was the norm. But some of those unfortunate realities  also gave way to creation of new traditions, time for observing attitudes, values, and goals that the ‘business of normalcy’ never allowed, and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for stillness and reflection we might not ever experience again.

How did you respond? Did you kick and scream the entire time, resisting the pull of change? Or did you settle in, buckle up, and tap into your ability to keep calm and craft a plan B? As no problems have ever been solved by stressing out, it’s my hope that you’ve been able to allow grace, flexibility, and patience to be part of your guiding compass. It’s not too late to course correct if those are all too foreign concepts. But how do you do that? Well, it’s all about asking yourself a series of questions and then making a commitment.

  1. Who was I able to identify as my support system? What did they offer me and how was I able to make our relationship reciprocal? How will I continue to nurture our ties?

  2. What did I create that gave me joy? How do I know that this wouldn’t have been possible under ‘normal circumstances’? How do I ensure that I continue to carve out time to devote to it?

  3. How have I changed? What surprised me the most about my transformation? How do I stay firmly rooted in my beliefs?

  4. Where am I looking forward to going when outside is truly open again? How will I move differently than I did before? Who am I taking with me?

  5. When I’m faced with adversity in the future, what strengths will I tap into? How will I remind myself to slow down and achieve balance when everything around me is chaotic? What will be my go-to plan for emotional detox and self-care?

We don’t know how long we’ll be here. And by no means is this a plea with you to like it, get over it, or remain in a toxically positive state of denial. Much of what we’ve experienced and continue to fight is unfair and illogical. But focusing solely on what’s wrong is also an unsustainable activity. Choosing to find the good allows for much more hope and joy. And what better way to do that than to take the artifacts of this year that allowed you true flow into a more promising future?

So the next time someone asks, “Do you make resolutions?” you can proudly assert, “Nope, I make resolve!” It’s my hope that you enter the new year with the firm determination to focus on the positive change you can embrace and control, intentionally.

About the Author

Dr. Barbara Ford Shabazz Dr. Barbara Ford Shabazz is currently the Psychology Program Director at South University, author of Intentional Balance, and the owner of Intentional Activities. For over 20 years, she has served students, clients, and the larger community as an instructor, advisor, speaker, consultant, therapist, and coach. Her clinical training commenced during an undergraduate practicum, where she initiated a collaborative partnership among the community elementary school teachers, parents, students, and university practicum enrollees. She has worked primarily in the Hampton Roads Virginia area with the community services board, various high schools, therapeutic foster care agencies, a pediatric medical practice, and a non-profit organization. Dr. Shabazz had the opportunity to hone her expertise in the mental health field through participating in her doctoral internship with Kern County Mental Health and practicing as a Resident in Psychology with a local psychotherapy practice, which provides services to a broad spectrum of clients. Close relationships with community organizations have helped to inform this educator's roles and responsibilities in academia. Dr. Shabazz not only facilitated a myriad of psychology courses for her alma mater's undergraduate and graduate programs, participated in student advising, and created a student-led colloquium series for the senior citizen neighbors, but she also had the honor of being recognized as favorite faculty. Additional classroom experience has offered invaluable lessons for practical application. Her position as an online professor helped to ensure competence with current trends and best practices in the field. More recently, Dr. Barbara has been drawn to the study of positive psychology, which was the impetus for seeking certification with the Coaching and Positive Psychology Institute. As a practicing certified personal and executive coach, her goal with Intentional Activities is to tap into the inherent strengths of each client, equipping them with the tools necessary to live a more action-oriented and authentic life. Dr. Shabazz earned her B.A. in psychology from Norfolk State University. She subsequently attended Regent University where she completed the requirements for her M.A. in Community and School Counseling , and Doctorate in Clinical Psychology. She is in a unique position to effect change from the classroom to the community, as she adeptly bridges theory and practice in her work with diverse populations. BARBARA FORD SHABAZZ PSY.D. , CPEC CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST, CERTIFIED PERSONAL AND EXECUTIVE COACH 757.305.7656 [email protected]

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One Comment

Brenda Thomas

This is a must read. Extremely helpful questions she wrote for us to ponder on.

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