by Rabbi Michoel Gourarie
Have you ever resolved to change a habit or a negative behavior and found it too difficult to sustain? Have you ever had good intentions that remained in the world of thought and were never implemented? Why is it so difficult to put well meaning, strong commitments into practice?
One answer is the lack of detailed planning. In business management everyone is aware that "failing to plan is planning to fail." A good plan includes careful analysis of the advantages of the project together with potential problems that could jeopardize its success. Lots of time is spent identifying detailed strategies and specific time frames for each step to be implemented.
In self development the same is true. General commitments are very ineffective. If we experience complications in our relationships, it is insufficient to commit to talking nicely to our spouse and children or to say that we will not get angry anymore. These types of general resolutions are short lived and leave us with disappointment and frustration. Our commitment needs to include a step by step plan of exactly what we will do, how will we go about implementing it and when each step will be put into practice.
The human being is driven by two opposing forces. The first is a Divine energy -a soul that motivates us to live ethically, have compassion and gravitate towards a more meaningful and spiritual existence. The second is the force of ego, pushing us to be self absorbed, hedonistic and to remain trapped in complacency and apathy.
Sometimes we have inspirational experiences when the Divine spark dominates our entire being. At that moment our ego is pushed aside and anesthetized, and we are filled with conviction, enthusiasm and commitment to an improved code of conduct. At that moment we don't anticipate any difficulties or obstacles that will hinder our success. Naively we make huge and general commitments convincing ourselves that they will be easy to put into practice in a short amount of time.
But as the excitement wears off our ego raises its ugly head once again and begins to challenge our conviction. It uncovers all the reasons why our decision cannot work. It exposes us to all the complications and difficulties that we seemed totally unaware of. We are left feeling overwhelmed and threatened and we put the resolution in the 'too hard' basket.
When we become excited we need to remember that our ego still exists. It is precisely at the moment of inspiration, that we should be proactive and anticipate all the potential difficulties. When we are not distracted by potential failure it is the best time to put into place a detailed manageable plan that will deal with all the issues and ensure successful implementation.
Don't waste inspirational moments. Make them work with a detailed sustainable plan.