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My Favorite New Year’s Resolution: Going Deeper on a Piece I wrote 8 Years ago

In 2012, I wrote a piece about my favorite New Year’s resolution. My commitment to this resolution has only intensified and my goal is to share my pontifications as well as some actionable best practices. 
Early January is that time of year when people start contemplating the changes or resolutions that they want to make in their lives. Of course, some iteration of “getting in shape” falls at the top of the list for many people; and this IS important. However, I am going to side-step this cliché for a moment. I’m convinced that the most compelling New Year’s Resolution, a resolution that is relevant to nearly everyone but specifically to Discover Strength clients, goes something like this: Work on Yourself or as I prefer, author Dr. Stephen Covey’s iteration, Sharpen the Saw. Whatever the vernacular, the message is the same. Before we can become more effective and contribute more meaningfully in our relationships, the organizations we work in, our families, our communities, and the other roles we play, we must first take care of and in fact, go to work on ourselves. Speaking of the habit of “Sharpening the Saw,” Covey states, “This is the single most powerful investment we can ever make in life – Investment in ourselves, in the only instrument we have with which to deal with life and contribute. We are the instruments of our own performance, and to be effective, we need to recognize the importance of taking time regularly to sharpen the saw.”
This resolution manifests itself in a myriad of ways. I think the key is that we should be able to point to the mechanisms we have built into our lives that are focused on “Sharpening the Saw.” Everyone’s chosen mechanisms will be different, but here are a few of my Saw Sharpening mechanisms for 2020:
  • Read 30 books.
  • Be an active member in a Vistage Peer Executive group.
  • Attend church a minimum of 29 times.
  • Strength train twice per week.
  • Attend 4 conferences.
  • Commit to the practice of a daily gratitude journal.
  • Schedule one full hour each week to step away from the business, with no technology, and take a “Clarity Break” where I simply spend time thinking, writing, and ideating. 
Again, I’m not suggesting that these are the right mechanisms, I’m simply sharing them as examples that I have committed to; yours may look very different. The purpose of each of these mechanisms is to improve myself and my capacity. 
Okay, back to exercise. Covey goes to great lengths to articulate the importance of taking the time to “Sharpen the Saw” as it pertains to our physical being. That is, we must take the time to improve ourselves through exercise. From this vantage point, exercise is anything but a selfish act. Instead, we must make an appointment with ourselves to exercise so that we can maintain or improve our health (and performance). In effect, when we Sharpen the Saw via exercise, we are better prepared to be effective in all of the roles that we play.
As you contemplate Sharpening the Saw through exercise, I encourage you to consider the following approach in your exercise and fitness goals:
1. Include process goals. A process goal might include:
  • I will strength train 75 times in 2020 (an average of 1.5 workouts per week).
  • I will perform one, high intensity interval workout per week.
  • I will perform a Bod Pod test every month (this was one of my 2018 and 2019 goals and it will be a 2020 goals as well).
2. Include outcome goals. Examples might include:
  • PR (personal record) in a 5k, half marathon, or marathon.
  • Achieve a Bod Pod assessment of sub 25% (or whatever percentage makes sense for you).
  • Perform one, body weight chin-up with perfect form.
Conclusion: Consider building in a few Saw Sharpening mechanisms into your day, week or month and create goals that connect to these mechanisms that are both process focused and outcome focused. 

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