Resolved to Clarify

Over the past week, we’ve been inundated with articles, blog posts, tweets, and Facebook updates about New Year’s resolutions. To make or not to make them – that seems to be the question.

Just what is it about a brand new year and vowing resolutions?

Many writers tend to possess the maddening, albeit necessary, drive to be word smiths. To grasp precise definitions that give life to our stories. Sound familiar? Welcome to the club.

After reading and hearing people opine about resolutions and maintaining resolve, I headed straight to the bookshelf. I found my old dog-eared, yellowed copy of The American Heritage Dictionary, Third Edition, and flipped back to the Rs. Not able to recall the last time I looked up the word resolution, I was completely unprepared to find this definition:

Resolution: the fineness of detail that can be distinguished in an image.

I re-read that definition several times before the full meaning sunk in: A resolution needs to contain such precise detail that it evokes a vivid mental picture.

In our techno-age, we relate resolution to pixels in an image. High-definition on a movie screen. Something so clear that details pop. Brilliant color that ignites our senses.

So why do we craft our New Year’s resolutions with vague language and colorless imagination?

Resolving to “get published” isn’t really a resolution – it’s a dream (and a pretty good one, I might add). But those two words lack fineness of detail and contain faceless people and blurred images. But resolving to attend the next local writer’s conference in order to network, learn the craft of writing, and pitch an agent or publisher stirs a focused mental picture. You can see the steps to take.

I’ve resolved to read through the Bible in 2012. I’ve already got my Bible reading checklist tucked in my Bible ready to go and an alarm set on my cell phone to alert me when it’s time to wrap up and get ready for work. I can clearly picture my quiet time each still morning as God whispers life into my soul. Just writing that brought to mind the comfy, overstuffed chair in my study where that wondrous, transforming time will unfold.

The bottom line? If you’re going to make New Year’s resolutions, add as much detail as you can. The more vivid the picture, the more focused your striving becomes. 

If you’re having difficulty seeing it, you’ll have difficulty attaining it.

Blessings to you and yours in 2012.

Let’s chat: If you’ve made resolutions, do you see fineness of detail that can be distinguished in an image? 

23 Replies to “Resolved to Clarify”

  1. I love this post! I enjoy digging deeper meaning out of a word by exploring the history/origin of the word and alternate definitions, as you’ve done here, with the word “resolution.”

    The men’s group at my church is currently reading “The Resolution for Men” which is based on the movie “Courageous.” You’ve just hit on something that has been nagging at me…the model resolution included in the book is too vague to be meaningful. It needs more clarity and defintion of detail, specific to the lives of the individual men,

    I’m going to have to use that, at our next meeting, in a couple of weeks.

    Thanks for the great post!

    1. Joe, I’ve not heard of that book and find myself intrigued – even if it is for men! Thanks for your affirmation. Don’t you just love it when God gives us just the answers we need? Blessings as you continue digging in together with your men’s group. What a great ministry!

  2. I think this works for more than New Year’s resolutions… Keeping it in focus and I ponder the next step. Thanks, I am drinking deep from your insight and dictionary digging. Happy New Year and may God bless your daily time with Him.

    1. That’s a great insight to keep resolution focus for all year, not just at new year’s. Thanks so much! Blessings on your new year, as well.

  3. Donna,
    Thanks for refining the focus of resolutions — and even choosing a word for 2012.
    Don’t be vague.
    Got it.
    My word for 2012 is “trust.” For now, I’m actually playing with the word “trust” by expanding the meaning of the word — looking at synonyms and antonyms, kind of turning it over and over, looking at it this way and that. But doing so actually helps me laser in on a focused meaning for trust, rather than a vague, “I know what trust means” idea.

    1. I thought about you, Beth, as I wrote this post. I loved your one word idea for new year’s so I settled on “perseverance.” I’ve now used this resolution definition to tease out the overarching perseverance concept into specific areas – like reading the Bible through in 2012. I like the idea of looking at synonyms and antonyms, as well. How cool is that? Thanks so much!

  4. My word for 2012 is “Abide” in Christ, but I know I need a clear, focused plan for doing this. I think one way is with a prayer journal, among other things. But with my less than trustworthy memory (and since I am a writer, after all) I think a journal is going to bring this goal into much clearer “focus.” Thank you for the spin on the word, Donna. Blessings for 2012!

    1. What an amazing word to choose for 2012, Camille! That evokes such a picture and sense of resting in the peace and guidance of the Lord. Prayer journals provide such a great way to clarify many, many things. I’ve received two new moleskin journals that beg to be written in. I’ll be joining you in journaling during my morning quiet times. Blessings to you in 2012!

  5. Thanks for a thoughtful post, Donna. One that I needed to read and absorb as we head into a new year. Because of your nudging, I am going to sit down today and get some focus for 2012. I’m also going to choose a word for the year, something I haven’t done before. Love it!

    1. Beth, a great plan! An overarching word following by specific focus provides such clarity. I’ve never chosen a single, umbrella word before, but thanks to my fellow WordServe Water Cooler friend, Beth Vogt, I’m doing that for the first time, as well. Blessings as you pause, focus, and dig in to 2012!

  6. Donna, I so appreciated you sharing the dictionary definition for resolution. It added insight to the fullness of its meaning, and believe it or not, I thought of pixels and picture resolution when I read the definition. 🙂

    Although I’ve never been successful in carrying out resolutions, I began focusing on one word last year. The idea of getting better focus on my word for the year, passion, would be so helpful for me. I think I’m going to copy Beth’s idea and look at its dictionary definition, synonyms and antonyms (thanks for letting me borrow, Beth!). Thanks, Donna!

    1. The fact that you thought of pixels and picture resolution tells me you have a picture-oriented imagination. How wonderful! I couldn’t agree more about choosing one focus word and detailing from there. Blessings as you do just that for 2012!

  7. You are absolutely right…the dictionary definition brought resolution into fresh focus. My own resolution is to improve my discipline to pray, but now I see I need to give that some arms and legs. Thanks.

  8. Great blog post.

    I love the idea of making New Year’s resolutions, but I have never been able to keep them. A few years ago, I determined to not make New Year’s resolutions ever again, and, so far, I like my decision.

    I don’t think there is anything wrong with setting goals, I just prefer to make them more tangible, which seems to be what you were getting at with the picture aspect of your post. So, instead of thinking of goals that I want to complete for the entire year, each month, I make new goals. Each week. Every day. Every ten minutes… 🙂

    I read somewhere that the most productive people are those who are able to work in 10-15 minute intervals. It is not the people who are able to focus for an hour, or two hours, but those who can be effective with their time in the little breaks throughout the day. So, your Bible reading check list is a great idea–it breaks up your goal into tangible bite-sized pieces.

    I suppose one year, I may go back to making goals for an entire year. But for now, I am happy to determine what I am going to do within the next hour (read some more water cooler posts, drink more coffee, eat a granola bar, and work on an editing project). 🙂

    1. Sarah, you have discovered what works for you and that’s most important! Working in small, uber-productive intervals accomplishes much! I do pomodoros and it works great. Blessings on your new year!

  9. I wrote a blog a few days ago called “Make Plans, Not Resolutions, As You Begin the New Year.” It takes a somewhat different perspective than your take but I think we are both after the same thing. You can take a look at the website below.

    Thanks for this post.

  10. Once I made the decision to self-publish via Kindle and CreateSpace, I no longer made resolutions or plans. I now have a Publication Schedule: short story in January, older novel in February, new novel in March, short story in April, non-fiction book in June, etc. It’s amazing how my outlook is different having a publication schedule. It’s much more motivating for sticking to the writing.

    1. Wow, David, that’s quite an impressive schedule! I can see how shifting between those would certainly use varying cognitive skills and tenacity. Great food for thought, thanks for sharing.

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