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Updated on August 29, 2011

Every year, well-meaning, sincere people make thousands of life-changing resolutions on New Year’s Eve. By Valentine’s Day, most of those resolutions have been broken and nothing has changed. Perhaps you were one of those sincere well-meaning people. You really wanted to make your life better but you just can't seem to keep those life-changing resolutions.

Why is it so hard to keep your resolutions and change your life? The honest answer is that we humans, for the most part, do not like to be tied down to a particular commitment or direction. As bad as this may sound, it is actually quite normal behavior. As people with limited time, resources, and opportunities, we can only make so many real commitments.

Marriage, career, college, family and church is about all that any of us can handle. So when you throw in another worthy accomplishment like quitting smoking or losing weight, you just don’t have the time, the energy, or the resources to commit to these positive but long-term, time-consuming, and energy-draining goals.

Even with our human aversion to goals and commitments, most people still want to make positive changes in their lives. But how can we change our lives when we can’t even keep a simple resolution?

The secret to successful life-change lies in how you make your resolution. Most people make a huge resolution that will require them to meet very specific goals. But when they are unable to meet those goals, they feel like failures, and in most people’s minds, it is far better to let this year be no different than last year than to try to fail at whatever change they tried to make.

The surest way to fail at changing your life is to make grand, sweeping resolutions with a lineup of goals that can quickly become obstacles and stumbling blocks to your success. Sooner or later, you will miss one of your goals because Life has a way of getting in the way of your progress. Suddenly, the whole chain of goals turns into roadblocks and most people, faced with the challenges of everyday life, simply give up and go back to the way things were.

If you really want to change your life, the first step is to make a LIFE RESOLUTION. Your LIFE Resolution must be broad, yet meaningful. It must have a direction, but have room for flexibility to meet the challenges that come your way. Your LIFE Resolution is your definition of success, and you should be able to see that success on a daily basis. This kind of resolution can be easily kept, giving you a reason to keep going and a record to show you how you made this new year better than the last year.

Here is the Life Resolution I suggest for everyone for this year and every year to follow:


Do you see the beauty in this resolution? There are no long-term goals. There is no great amount of time or resources needed. The definition of success is based on what you did TODAY to make tomorrow better than yesterday, so you can be successful on January 1st, December 31st and every day in between. All you have to do is be able to tell how you used today to make tomorrow better than yesterday! I know it all sounds simple, and it really is. But the beauty of this simple resolution is that it really works! You can do this! In fact, anyone can do this! All you have to do everyday is answer this simple question:

“What Did I Do Today To Make Tomorrow Better Than Yesterday?”

If you can not think of anything you did today to make tomorrow better than yesterday, you have wasted your day. But don’t worry, you have another day coming. You may have failed today, but today will soon be yesterday and tomorrow you will have a new today to use. As long as you get back up and go again, you cannot fail!

Now, let’s talk about some things you may want to use TODAY for to make tomorrow better than yesterday. Most of us want to set goals, but I suggest that, instead of goals, you make a list. When you make a list, you are saying, “This is what I want to change or do.” As you make your list, some things will attract you more than others. Some things will show themselves to be more urgent than others. You may decide that some things are not worth doing at all. A list gives you a chance to decide what is really important to you, and then allows you to make those things a priority.

Your list also helps you to decide what you will do TODAY. The key to this is that no matter how big your ambition is on your list, the task you choose must be completed TODAY. For instance, on my list, I want to start an organization to help rescue cats. Today I may choose to work on this task and not work on other tasks, but whatever I do on this task must be done TODAY. So, I may decide today to read up on how to start such an organization. Another day, I may make an appointment to talk to other people who rescue cats. Another day I may see a lawyer about setting up the organization. Everyday I record what I did so I can answer the question - “What did I do today to make tomorrow better than yesterday?” Answering this question helps me see how and if I am making progress.

Remember too that another benefit of your list is that, if you hit a snag on one thing you want to change, you can work on another. Let’s say I have to wait for information to come before I can file my paperwork to start my organization. While I’m waiting, I can work on other tasks. As long as I can show where I used TODAY to make tomorrow better than yesterday, I am making progress.

So, what do you need to do to use TODAY to make tomorrow better than yesterday? First, decide that you WILL use today to make tomorrow better than yesterday. Second, make your list of things you would like to change or do. Third, work on something on that list everyday. Forth, keep a log of your progress so you can see your successes. Keep in mind too that opportunities to use today to make tomorrow better than yesterday are not just limited to your list. If something comes your way that can make tomorrow better than yesterday, act on it. Then make sure you write it down so you can look back at your success.

If you really like this idea and you are very organized and motivated, you can take this resolution and run with it. If you are like me, however, you may need a framework for your list. I have broken my life into seven parts that I believe most people share. These seven parts are nothing new. They are probably things that you do everyday, so there will be little or nothing new to add to your life. What you will be doing is deciding what you will do today to make these seven parts of your life better tomorrow than they were yesterday.

I have assigned to each of these seven part just three things I want to make better. That’s a total of 21 opportunities (three areas per part) for improvement for the entire year. That may sound like a lot, but remember that these are parts of your life that you are doing everyday anyway. This way, you will be improving only those parts of your life you do everyday, and that is what resolutions are about - improving you and your life.

Here are the seven parts of my life - CHRIST, CHURCH, HOME, EDUCATION or CAREER, FINANCE, PASSION, ME.

Here are the three areas I have assigned to each part:

CHRIST - Prayer, Bible Study, Personal Ministry

CHURCH - Attendance, Service, Giving

HOME - Clean, Repair, Renovate

CAREER - My Job, My Writing, My Websites (All are jobs or business ventures)

FINANCE - Bills, Investments, Savings

PASSION - SC No-Kill Alliance, Homer’s Hope, Meow Media -

(All of the areas above are cat or animal rescue organizations I am working to start or have started. Your passions will be different of course, so decide what you really want to do and do it!)

ME - Health, Hobby, Cancer -

(I was diagnosed with chronic Leukemia in Sept. of 2010. This will be a big area of my life in 2011, which is why I list it here. You may have a particular challenge ahead of you. Make that one of your areas to tackle).

Now, with the parts of your life in place, decide what you will work on TODAY. Some things you may not do but once or twice a week, like paying bills. Some things you will work on everyday. Keep a record or make a chart to help you stay on course. Remember, you only have one real goal - to everyday answer this question: What did I do today to make tomorrow better than yesterday?

I wish you the best for 2011 and beyond!

Paw-Paw John Kelly


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