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Friday, December 25, 2009

New Year's Resolutions


Hm… Truthfully, I’m not much into “holidays”, but I do like New Year’s. Not the exact moment of New Year’s… that whole kiss someone, make noise, watch the ball drop, etc. No, I just like the idea of “fresh starts”. I like that people find things they want to work on or change and then make a plan and really try to do it.

I don’t usually keep my resolutions, but it’s fun (not sure if that’s the right word) to at least try… to try for some change.

Apparently we aren’t all living precisely how we want to live or so many of us wouldn’t be making resolutions.

Some popular resolutions, according to recent national polls:
- Spend More Time with Family & Friends
- Lose Weight
- Tame the Bulge
- Quit Smoking
- Enjoy Life More
- Quit Drinking
- Get Out of Debt
- Save Money
- Reduce Stress
- Learn Something New
- Help Others
- Get Organized

A couple of those surprised me… Didn’t realize so many people felt a burning desire to learn something new. I wonder why they would choose that. Maybe some just like to know things, know about things, know how to do things, etc. And maybe others are bored and want to try something new and interesting to do.

I’m pleased to see “Help Others” is a biggie. How cool is that?

“Get Organized” makes sense. So many of us feel overwhelmed and I think simplifying and organizing our lives, our environments, our responsibilities, and our minds is really important to us.

I spent a significant amount of 2009 lightening the load… don’t have too many possessions right now and continuing to rid myself of… things.

I also want to lighten the mental load… want fewer responsibilities, fewer “undone” things, etc.

So, we have some starting points. Now… what is it that makes some people keep their resolutions while others give up? What are the ingredients to sticking with a self-promise? Are some people just not cut out to have will-power or is it more like some people know HOW to do it and others don’t have the tools?

First, I think it’s easy to feel ultra-confident about our plan to do or not do something… so long as that something is in the future. So long as we’re starting… on Monday… or at the New Year, etc.

I was at one of Monica’s hockey games earlier this year and I observed something. It is SOOOO easy to be a gracious sports parent when your child’s team is winning. But the parents of the losing children’s teams are often ugly, bitter, and nasty.

That got me thinking about rich people and poor people. It makes a lot of sense that poor people anger more easily (riots, violence, crime, etc).

I’m not saying rich is synonymous with happy and poor is synonymous with angry, but I think this is worth dwelling on as a concept.

The key, then, would be to learn how to be happy even if you are “poor”, or on the “losing team”, or whatever else misfortune you are facing at any given time.

How does this relate to New Year’s resolutions? Well… like I said, it’s easy to start a diet (mentally) when you’re sitting on the couch with a full belly ‘cause you just stuffed yourself with turkey, mashed potatoes, and pecan pie. Right then and there, you have 100% resolve and confidence in yourself. Wow, this is going to be easy. I feel fabulous about the diet I’m starting. I won’t fail at all.

Mmm… okay.

So then it’s the next day… and you’re hungry… and hungry makes you cranky… and cranky makes you lose your resolve because your whole attitude has changed.

So… what’s the key (in Laura’s mind) to sticking with your New Year’s resolutions? Stay happy. Ha ha ha!

I know easier said than done, but at least it’s a start.

Maybe the point, though, is that keeping your promise isn’t about the specific pain the promise puts you through (quitting smoking makes you feel jittery, eating less makes you feel weak, saving money makes you have to do without, etc), it’s about getting yourself into a place where the “pain and suffering” of your resolution won’t bring you down enough to make you quit.

Stay positive, somehow… any way you can. Positive/happy will help you get through the first rough patches of your resolution… then once you start seeing the benefits it will become easier and easier.

I think “planning” is a good strategy too. For example, I know that if I want to eat healthily then I’d better have some healthy choices of convenient food on hand… because more often than not I don’t have time to prepare a bunch of healthy meals. Yeah, once in a while I can make an elaborate meal, but with hockey Mon-Thurs evenings right after working a full day at the office… well, that means eating on the run.

And what do I do if there isn’t something healthy AND convenient to grab? I can tell myself that I’ll be fine, that I can do without until I get home, but the truth of the matter is that if I get hungry and there’s nothing healthy around me, I will eat something NOT healthy for my body.

So for me, preparation is a HUGE deal. Having healthy choices on-hand at all times.

Someone trying to quit smoking might make sure they don’t end up in a place filled with smokers. Think ahead.

Anyway… enough musing… what are my New Year’s goals? Well, I really like these few days between Christmas and New Year’s because it gives me a chance to formulate a plan.

Some of the things I’m thinking about are:
- Continuing to improve the health of my body (I recently went from high blood pressure to a reading of 106/62 with a pulse of 67).
- Continuing to streamline my life. I’ve been good this past year about ridding myself of possessions, but now I want to add to that. I want to learn to stop spending TIME doing things that take away from my focus.

Those are two pretty big promises so I think I’ll quit there.

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1 comment:

  1. I think a list of reasons "why" you want to do something is the motivation to keep you going when your goals, promises, resolutions, etc. test you. However, your reasons need to be compelling enough to make you pass up that piece of cheesecake. :)

    Wishing you a successful 2010!