I’ve never been a big fan of setting resolutions. Don’t get me wrong, I have tried and I have failed over the years. I don’t recall how many years ago that I gave up on resolutions, but last year I decided to work on goal-oriented tasks for my writing. We all know what happened with 2020. Anyone who set any kind of goal saw it crushed and smashed and ground into dust.
I believe we can always learn from the worst situations. My lesson take-away is to set goals for me as a person. Goals that I can work on no matter what happens. Whether a virus keeps us locked in our homes or a civil war breaks out, whether there’s an alien invasion or robots go rogue, there will always be a moment to work on my virtues and my vices.
Defining Virtues and Vices
Definitions courtesy of the Merriam Webster dictionary:
- Virtue: Conformity to a standard of right: Morality (b) A particular moral excellence. (2) a beneficial quality or power of a thing. (4) a commendable quality or trait: Merit (yes, I skipped a few of the definitions as they didn’t all pertain to what I’m working on).
- Vice: (b): a moral fault or failing. (c) a habitual and usually trivial defect or shortcoming: foible.
It Starts With Ben Franklin’s Virtues
I didn’t come up with this idea off the top of my head. The idea of working on my virtues and vices came from a mini-training session on using my planner effectively. Within the training (Franklin Planner Training Course – free and quick) I first heard about Ben Franklin’s list of virtues. Here’s the link to see Ben Franklin’s list of virtues.
Basically, Ben Franklin realized that he could work on 13 virtues four times a year, one virtue a week. Because 13 goes into 52, four times.
The Vice Tweak
Now, obviously, working on these virtues won’t make me perfect. And, not everyone will agree with the areas I want to deal with in my selections of virtues and vices. But that’s okay. The best part of this is that you can pick what virtues mean the most to you. There are many to choose from. You can choose from the big ones like temperance, courage, justice or from less obvious ones like restraint, humility, simplicity.
Ben Franklin chose to strengthen his virtues, and I think he had a fabulous list. And, I’m sure if I work on just virtues, my vices will ebb out, eventually. However, I decided to add a few vices to work on. Clearly, I don’t want to strengthen my vices. No one ever said, “Oh hey, let’s get worse at something.” I do want to lessen my reliance on a few vices so I decided my thirteen would be a mix of things to strengthen and lessen.
My List of Virtues and Vices
My list may not be as succinct as Ben Franklin’s, but it’s my best effort to keep my focus.
- Faith. Trust God first, then try hard to trust mankind.
- Wisdom. Know when to speak and know the right words for the issue, know when not to speak, know when to listen, know when to walk away. (After re-reading that I see it looks like a cross between the Serenity Prayer and Kenny Loggin’s The Gambler). Both very good life advice.
- Forgiveness. When asked to forgive, forgive. As with most people, there are things I’m willing to forgive without being prompted. However, other things I have a harder time forgiving. So I’m taking a cue from the Bible and when asked forgiveness, I will forgive those issues I struggle to forgive.
- Gratitude. A full heart that radiates kindness begins with gratefulness. Practice gratitude daily.
- Resolution. (Yes, I’m swiping this one from Ben Franklin’s list) Resolve to perform what you ought. Perform without fail what you resolve. (Simplified note to self: Don’t get sidetracked, Diane.)
- Generosity. Receive it gracefully and share it with grace.
- Kindness. Practice more kindness, especially to those you least want to give it to. *I used to be overly kind to everyone, but as you age you get burned. I want to find that happy medium.
- Honor. Be respectful and be worthy of respect.
- Courage. Do what must be done, say what must be said, stand tall behind my values.
- Awareness. In the sense of surroundings. Where are exits? I don’t want to be standing in the midst of a fire looking for glowing exit signs.
- Mettle. Be calm in stress and difficulty. Wait, learn, plan.
- Patience. Don’t interrupt when others speak, don’t rush past the changing color of the leaves and landscape, don’t wish for a new year to get here quicker than it should, and don’t rush through agony. Everything is a lesson.
- Gluttony. Reduce gluttonous over-eating. Maybe the over-buying of pens, papers, and books. Maybe.
A Year of Strength Ahead
My end goal is that I have strengthened my virtues and reduced my dependence on vices. However, that end goal is not for this year, that is for the rest of my life. I hope to look back one day and be proud that I’ve helped where I could andstood strong in my beliefs, and that I’ve done it all with love, compassion, and tactfulness.
I would love to hear how others choose to work on virtues and vices. Lessons that I can learn from, that I can grow from. Please feel free to share in the comments.
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