Don't make resolutions. Be resolute. The example of Charlie Miller.

My father-in-law, Charles Richard Miller (Yes, my wife Monica was born as and now remains, with me, a Miller) provides an example to me of this principle.

Charlie’s example to me: be resolute, consistent and intentional about the things that are important in life. Always stay true to your values. And it helps to have good values. This applies whether the yearly resolutions are made or not.

New Year’s resolutions are fine, and I have nothing against them, but it is more important and it certainly helps you to successfully achieve them if you are a resolute and consistent person to start with. Any resolutions you make will then be aligned with your values and principles and is an extension of and refinement of them thus making them easier to achieve.

Some background. Charlie at 86 years old grew up in small town Indiana (Belleville). At age 18, just out of high school, he volunteered (instead of being drafted) for and served in the Korean War in the U.S. Navy on the aircraft carrier USS Philippine Sea.

After the war, he worked for AT&T in a management role. He retired from the “telephone company” in 1989.

CM / Jan 2019

CM / Jan 2019

In retirement, he took up sailing and owned a 30-foot C&C sailboat keeled out for speed and raced it successfully for some years; he was around 60 years old at that time (remember he was and is a Navy man).

In the boating years, he identified a problem; cleaning the underside of his sailboat. He figured out a unique, unconventional yet very effective solution. He obtained his scuba diving certification for the sole purpose of this task. He was now able to gain access underneath his boat while it was still in the water and clean it much more effectively than before. So, there he was in the St. Johns River in Jacksonville Florida, with weights on his ankles in shallow, murky water cleaning the underside of his boat. He never used this training for anything else. Task accomplished. As an engineer, I admire that kind of problem-solving ability and unconventional thinking.

An athlete by nature, he raced and rode bicycles for exercise and enjoyment all his life. He raced competitively in in the masters’ category (age 40 and older) and up until about a year ago, he regularly rode 20 miles or more at a time many days. The sport took Charlie and his wife Janice to the big screen as they appeared in the 1979 Hoosier-based movie Breaking Away in true-to-life roles — he as a racer and she as a cycling referee.

He doesn’t ride his bike as much today but does walk two to three miles per day.

So, instead of simply making a resolution to be healthy and exercise more, he actually did it for decades. And at an unusually vigorous pace.

A self-professed TV man (he was trained in television repair prior to taking his job with AT&T) he has followed and kept up with the technology from the 1950s tube TVs through today. He currently owns five TVs including the latest model OLED display.

Charlie’s example for me and others: Keep up with new technologies, be flexible and always willing to learn and accept new ideas and new things. Be curious about all things. He currently owns the latest Apple watch, iPhone and a recent iPad, and uses them all.

He can and does speak intelligently with me and many others about many topics: sports; both college and pro; cars, TVs and anything electronic, politics and current events and other subjects.  

I don’t know if Charlie ever made any New Year’s resolutions. If he sees something that needs to be done, he just does it. At the time it is needed. Period. No resolution needed. He has led a life of purpose and accomplishment nevertheless. And isn’t that the point? Not bad for a boy from Belleville, Indiana.