Posted by on Jun 22, 2014 in PGST Reflections | No Comments

The great Greek tragedian Sophocles had this to say about the phenomenon of the resolution.

“Men should pledge themselves to nothing; for reflection makes a liar of their resolution.”

Seems Sophocles would not have been a big fan of our annual oaths of enhancement and renewal. Although the resolutions we make are filled with genuine hope and the best, most noble of intentions, I think we can agree that, in retrospect, we often find the impassioned vows sadly become broken promises. A sense of naiveté peppered with gripping shame can bubble to the surface as we contemplate the unused gym membership or the blank page. The desire, enkindled with yearning, transforms to self-hating stagnation. So if, as Sophocles says, we should not pledge ourselves to these lofty ambitions, how then do we effectively aim for and make progress toward our longed for objectives?

The first thing we do when applying PGST is articulate our Super Objectives (the large goals that we feel intensely called to move toward). An interesting quality of the Super Objectives is that they are not in our power to actually manifest; we can’t go out and simply, directly and literally do them. For example, if we articulated one Super Objective as “to have my new business make $500,000 pure profit by July 1st 2013” we can’t walk out the door and just make it happen. In the same way if we have a New Year’s resolution to “get in top physical condition” or “end my habits of procrastination” we can’t immediately do it or guarantee that it will happen. We do not possess the power to insure these pledges come to pass. So what do we have power over?

The Stoic philosopher Epictetus says, “In our power are thought, impulse, will to get and will to avoid.” Perhaps another way of saying this is that we have power over our attitude and moving towards something or moving away from something. So the problem with the resolution might lie in that fact that we try and make it happen instead of moving towards it. Instead of swearing to the heavens that a specific result be achieved, we may choose to gently and without strain move toward the objective. So on the first day of 2013 instead of waking up and attempting to acquire the result of being in top physical condition we might find it much more effective and empowering to brainstorm for twenty minutes on actions we can take to move toward being in top physical condition. The following day we can enter one of these brainstormed actions, placing our attention on the action, not the result. When we stay in action, in “the moving towards”, we will never indict ourselves as liars in the manner that Sophocles speaks of, but rather find ourselves empowered by our engagement with the actual. Fixed interest on result is a trap of looping damnation while gentle attention on action is the path to salvation.

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