It’s also the time of year when people scramble to write their New Year’s resolutions – a litany of things they would like to do in the coming year (fingers-crossed) to change things for the better. “I’m going to stop smoking” and “I’m going to lose the weight I gained from my last pregnancy (5 years ago!)” are just some of the common promises we hear in a New Year’s resolution recital.
But writing a list of promises is one thing; actually making them happen is a whole different ballgame. I’ve known friends and family members in the past who always seem to come up with the same, albeit enhanced, list of resolutions every single year. I, too, used to be guilty of making the same perpetual promises that don’t seem to get done, until I decided to give up on the resolution ritual a very long time ago. Life just always seems to get in the way of my resolution realization.
At a New Year’s Eve party with some friends recently, I was peer-pressured into coming up with a New Year’s resolution (Yes, I give in to peer pressure sometimes). Because I haven’t had much practice in this area in decades, I managed to come up with the old, often-recited resolution: “I’m going to lose some weight this year.”
See, this is the kind of promise I can keep making until I get it done. And the only apparent consequence to me is still not being able to fit in my favorite pair of jeans! That is something I could live with.
But it made me wonder: What if the consequence of a broken promise is much worse than an unworn pair of pants? What if not doing something you say you would, can lead to tragic results?
Reflecting on the consequences of our action – or inaction – might make a huge difference in our resolve to achieve that which we have promised. When we resolve, for example, to make sure new employees get proper safety training, it’s not really because it’s part of our job. It’s because we don’t want them to get injured on the job. When we say we’re going to remind our co-workers to put on their fall arrest equipment, it’s because we want them to be protected and not risk a fall.
As safety managers, your resolve is to manage risks and maintain workplace safety at all times, not because that’s what you’re paid to do, but because you want your workers to come home to their families at the end of the day safe and sound.
If we only stop and think about the consequences of the things we decide to do or not do, I wonder how many more lives we could save or injuries we could prevent.
I still don’t believe that my goals for the year could be embodied in a hastily written or thought-up New Year’s resolution (I’ll maybe try to watch the weight, but no promises!).
What I’m certain of is that whatever I resolve to do this year, I will do so with thoughtful knowledge of the consequences as a motivation for my action.
Mari-Len De Guzman is the former editor of Canadian Occupational Safety magazine and www.cos-mag.com.