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The classic "New Year's Resolution" has become so cliché and so over-used, that
we joke about how quickly we break our resolutions, completely ignoring the fact
that we are, indeed, breaking a promise to ourselves when we do so.
It's likely that resolutions for the new year suffer a great deal of misunderstanding.
They are seen as throw-away promises to ourselves, and it's pretty common for most folks
to break the resolution a week or two later (completely forgetting it was ever a promise
made at all...)
The truth is, if you don't take the promise seriously when you first make it, there's
no real reason to continue to try to keep that promise. If it's done as a joke or
on the spur of the moment some New Year's Eve, why would you expect yourself to hold
to that promise for an entire year?
But there's another sort of New Year's Resolution... the kind we definitely
should pay close attention to and do our best to stick to. These are the kinds
of resolutions that come as the result of introspection and reflection, of a true
desire for change or goal attainment.
Here are some tips to help make your resolutions for 2007 more than just empty promises:
If your resolutions this year truly affect your health, your life (and the way you
want to live it) and your family and friends, then perhaps it's worth a good look at
ways to make such promises more than empty good intentions.
The most common resolutions every year, worldwide, are to lose weight and to stop
smoking. Both terribly important to your health, well-being, and ability to be here year
after year to keep making resolutions at all. There are others as well... and many of
them affect your day-to-day life.
Perhaps you'll resolve to read books that will help you deal with anger or depression
or self esteem issues. Perhaps you might even resolve to get counseling for
certain things that you've been trying hard to deal with on your own, but haven't
been quite successful with.
But how do we stick to these resolutions?
Instead of saying "I'm going to lose weight this year," or "I'm going to stick
with my low carb diet this year", say "I'm going to take an active roll in counting my
carb grams and calories each day until I find what works for me."
Or instead of "I'm going to have more willpower to stay away from temptation this
year", say "I'm going to have a plan for how to deal with temptation this year and how
to tell people 'no'." Then write up the plan. Prove to yourself you've done what you
Have a contingency plan for when you are tempted. For instance, if you want to smoke,
go for a walk instead, or call a friend.
If you say that you're going to write more letters to friends you may or may not do
so, but if you say that you're going to write at least two letters a week to friends,
you have a specific goal that you can measure and verify, and you'll have written
over 100 letters in 2007. Make your resolutions quantifiable and verifiable.
Don't promise to lose twenty pounds by Valentine's Day if you can't do it. Very
few people can safely lose that much weight that quickly.
Don't promise to always clean your house every single day. Don't promise to give half
of your earnings to charity if you can't afford it.
The more realistic you are, the more likely you'll be to stick to your resolutions,
and the more pride you'll get out of having accomplished something valuable.
Lasting change means being prepared to make sacrifices. If you're resistant to
making the necessary sacrifices, ask yourself why. Many people resist change because
they're afraid of the unknown. Unhealthy habits may be harmful and detract from your quality
of life, but they're familiar, and for many that's reason enough to keep them.
The best way to overcome this fear of the unknown is to make yourself fully aware of the
consequences of not changing your current habits, and the advantages of adopting new
behaviors. Make a list of the pros and cons of smoking, for example. A "pro" might be the
relief from tension smoking brings you. A definite "con," however, is the greatly increased
risk of cancer and heart disease; and its interferrence to making a lowered carb diet
work to its best ability. Seeing the consequences of a bad habit in black and white may
make fear of the unknown less imposing and make change more desirable.
If all of your resolutions focus on yourself and what you want,
you'll be ignoring one of the great truths in life — we find happiness and
self-satisfaction in doing things for others.
Want a happier life? Then don't resolve to become happier. Instead, resolve to do
one good thing every day for someone else, with no recognition or reward.
These can be simple deeds such as helping a stranger carry something from the store
to his or her car, or donating a dollar when the person in front of you in the
check-out line comes up 95 cents short. Simple things that cost us very little in
life and invariably bring us happiness and better self-esteem.
Write down and post these resolutions where you'll see them many times every day.
Remind yourself constantly that you have a goal this year, and that you're working to
reach this goal.
Get a Support
Form a support system of friends and family, who will cheer you on and also challenge
you to stick to your goals.
The One Resolution
Everyone Should Make.
Find time for yourself, and spend it doing something you enjoy. It might be reading,
painting, hiking, writing, playing an instrument, making crafts? almost anything. If
you don't have a hobby you can do by yourself, find one! Being able to enjoy time spent
alone is important; it helps you remember who you really are.
Take credit for success when you achieve a resolution, but it is a mistake to blame yourself
if you fail. Instead, look at the barriers that were in your way. See how you can do better
the next time and figure out a better plan to succeed. You do get to try again and can make
behavior changes throughout the year, not only at New Year's. Remember that there's nothing
wrong with Easter resolutions or Birthday resolutions!
Neil and I wish you a Healthy and Happy 2007!