Here we are : another new year, another opportunity for a new year's resolution, another opportunity for disappointment. "This year, I am going to :"
Like many people, I used to start a new year with good intentions, and, like many people, I tended to be shortsighted in follow through. After the first few failures of ambition that appeared at this time of year in the past, I have resolved to make no more resolutions.
Did you know that the word resolute has the same origin as the word solution? To make a resolution is to re-examine a problem, break it into parts, and arrive at a solution. A true resolution is more like an intention to act, rather than to achieve a final goal. Too often, we set ambitious goals that cover too large of a time span that makes reaching that goal difficult to see. We tend to want to leap from one building to another, rather than walk up one flight of stairs.
Instead of making resolutions that are "goals," we might be more effective if we make a commitment to action. Instead of saying, "I'm going to lose 'x' amount of weight in one year " (or one month or one week), it might be better to say, "Tomorrow, I am going to make healthy food choices and exercise more." Then tomorrow, set a new action goal for the following day. Building upon daily commitments, or small steps, is a proven way to make behavior changes that are permanent.
Having said that, I don't want to give the impression that I am wandering around aimlessly with no goals. Actually, I started working on my "commitment to action" last fall. After having been inspired by a friend who had given up soft drinks, I decided to follow her example. Even though I chose diet soft drinks, I realized that giving them up would, hopefully, move toward lowering my "sugar acuity" or my desire for things tasting sweet. I am happy to say that I have only had one soft drink since late October : and that was only because of a mix-up in a take-out order. (I know, I should have dumped it out and gotten water, but that just proves I'm human!)
This same friend has also inspired me to take better care of myself in terms of daily physical activity. While at a conference, she had me up at 5 a.m. to work out in the hotel fitness room, proving to me that I can be a morning person.
Instead of using whatever time is left over in the evening (usually none) for exercise, I have committed to starting my day with a 20-minute workout and utilizing my lunch hour for an extra walk or session at a fitness center. I have finally realized that in order to be any good to my family, I've got to start by taking care of myself!
Here are a few more ideas for you to consider as you think about resolutions:
¢ Make sure the action you target to take is within your reach. Discouragement is the biggest obstacle to achievement. Remember that big changes often start with baby steps.
¢ Be specific. Vague action steps give little direction and provide fewer opportunities for progress towards achievement.
¢ Focus on an action you can take, not on someone else's behavior.
¢ Take a look at your priorities in life and make your resolutions the tools that serve those priorities.
Have a Happy New Year!