Should You Phrase Resolutions in the Form of a Question?

Asking “Can I?” and “Should I?” brings an attitude of open curiosity to your New Year’s pledges.

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New Year's resolutions

Anyone who has ever watched the trivia show “Jeopardy” knows the game’s famous rule: answers must be phrased in the form of a question.

To bring the most positive approach to your New Year’s resolutions this year, try the Jeopardy approach. Let me phrase that differently: Might you try the Jeopardy approach to infuse your New Year’s resolutions with positivity and likelihood of success? 

Questions and statements are fundamentally different in tone. A statement is definitive, confident and fixed: I will lose 5 pounds before Memorial Day. A question, on the other hand, is hopeful, curious and flexible: Can I eat less sugar every day for the next six months—and how will I feel if I do that?

The question format can also deepen a statement resolution, if you are planning a very concrete pledge for 2020. For example, let’s take the statement, “I will communicate better with my closest friends and family,” and apply the question words, “5 Ws and 1 H” we all learned in elementary school, to it: 

1)  Who? 
With whom do I hope to stay more connected in 2020?

2)  What?
What do I want them to know about my life—and what do I hope to learn about theirs?

3)  Where? 
Ideally, where should we communicate--in writing or in person or a good balance of both? 

4)  When? 
When is a reasonable time and expectation for communication—daily? Weekly? Monthly?

5)  Why? 
Why is good communication important and what is the relationship I hope for at the end of 2020?

6)  How? 
How can I keep myself on task—calendar reminders? Special stationery?

Perhaps the biggest benefit of phrasing New Year’s resolutions in question form is that asking yourself how you might make your life more positive puts far less pressure on your shoulders than declaring that you must achieve a particular goal. Because there’s no way to fail a question—you might need to adjust, re-prioritize or change course, but its life-changing power lies in having asked it in the first place. 

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