Implement a Resolution for the New Year
by Bill Knell
The idea of celebrating the New Year began about four thousand years ago in ancient Babylon. This celebration coincided with the start of spring and the planting season. Babylon was also the birthplace of the New Year’s Resolution. The idea was to give people who had borrowed farm equipment from their neighbor a chance to remember what they had done and return it before planting began. Most of today’s New Year’s Resolutions follow in that tradition. They are ideas, goals and challenges designed to make practical and positive changes to our lives during the coming year.
There is a school of thought that says most people either love or hate the holiday season between Thanksgiving and New Years, with no middle ground. Most people who take a definitive position on the Holidays probably also fall into the optimistic ’glass is half full’ or pessimistic ’glass is half empty’ measurement of personal outlook. Surprisingly, that’s not a bad thing.
People who take a positive or negative position on life are great candidates for change. If you’re lost in some desert or jungle, the hardest part of that experience is finding out where you are. If you already know where you are, mapping out the journey to somewhere else is much easier. The same is true in life.
Almost everyone chooses some positive change as a New Year‘s Resolution. Such change usually involves weight loss, quitting smoking, attitude adjustment, moving to a more comfortable dwelling, getting a better job, finding a soul mate or making more money. People start thinking a lot about change as a New Year approaches. From a practical standpoint, this is probably the worst time to alter your life. From an emotional standpoint, it’s the one time of year when people are willing to put forth serious effort to change. It would be unwise to waste that kind of an opportunity, even if it means merely laying the groundwork for serious life modification.
I’ll spare you the usual happy talk about goal setting and get down to the nitty gritty of what it takes to make any New Year’s Resolutions you have in mind come true. I’m assuming that you’ve already given much thought to the changes you want to make. The most successful Resolutions involve issues that have been tugging at a person for some time. They’ve already considered the pros and cons are ready to take action.
The end result of any New Year’s Resolution should be personal growth in a positive direction. Given that, it might be wise to wait before calling the divorce attorney or telling off your Boss on January 2nd. What seems like a terrific idea during the Holidays may turn out to be a real nightmare in the emotional doldrums that often follow the glittery holiday season. Some changes are better left to times when cooler heads prevail and less alcohol is consumed.
If you’re ready to move your life in a positive direction, you will have to create a good support structure to complete the change. People who want to lose weight, quit smoking, drinking or some other habit can really benefit from having others around who are trying to do the same thing. Beyond the paid weight loss, quit smoking and addictive substance services, there are a number of free support groups and non-profit organizations willing to help. Most people who try to lose weight or quit a habit without a support structure tend to fail. In many cases, inspiration can also come from within. The idea is to make a conscious decision to change and follow through with a strong force of will. It’s the ‘follow through’ part that gets most of us. That’s because we’re unwilling to actually take the plunge when we have the chance to do so.
There is no substitute for action. Positive thinking is good, goal setting helps, but action rules! That means making time to act on the changes you wish to make in your life and following through. Write down a long list of things required to make changes. Consider each item, and then turn your long list into a short list. Make your list very personal. While people can help you by providing support, it’s imperative that you become the main source of inspiration and support for change in your life.
Part of creating a short list is being realistic. Make sure it’s a daily, not long-term list. It’s always easiest to focus in on and accomplish small tasks on a daily basis that will help you create the kind of change you desire in your life. While long-term goals are always beneficial, short-term tasks are usually required to reach them. The idea is not to overwhelm yourself with unrealistic expectations and impossible deadlines. Take it one-step at a time.
If you want to lose 100 pounds, start by deciding to eat just one meal each day. Be sure that meal is in the morning and, based on your own metabolism, doesn’t exceed your body’s ability to process what you intake and still burn off fat. Diet programs tend to be designed for people who can eat three or more small meals a day and still lose weight. Most people who are seriously overweight do not fall into that category. For them, a slice of low fat lunchmeat, a couple of tomato slices and one slice of bread with low fat margarine or mayonnaise are about all that can be eaten most days in order to lose the weight. Hunger pains can often be handled by drinking black coffee or low calorie beverages. The idea is to lower the hunger threshold, rather then eating to feed the fat.
Any change requires progressive implementation. A person who is seriously overweight cannot really get the exercise they need until after losing enough pounds to make that kind of bodily strain safe. Smokers are in the same boat. They need to cut down on smoking until reaching a point where they have the breath needed to take long walks, jog or do other exercises designed to clear out their lungs and help satisfy cravings.
People who want to further their education and haven’t been to school for a while might want to seriously assess their ability to return to the culture of education before they leap in. Being technically perceptive and able to study is part of that preparation. If you haven’t yet mastered simple computer or internet skills, take on that challenge before you do anything else. Email has become an important part of the student and teacher communication process. Assignments and class information is often communicated to students via internet. Your ability to study and complete assignments will require time. Have you set aside that time? What about your reading and comprehensive skills?
If a new job or career is on your New Year’s Resolution list, but sure your ready to take the leap. Get your resume and letters of recommendation in order. Assemble some good Resume Stuffers. These are certificates of training or achievement, which always look good to perspective employers. They tell a future employer that you are willing to learn, grow and improve your skills. Most require little more then attending a seminar or short series of classes. Without those items, you’re telling a prospective boss that you know everything you want to know and are unwilling to learn more. You are saying that you will not easily accept new situations, methods or supervision. That is not what most employers want to hear.
Relationship changes are hard. Most involve one party telling the other to get lost. No one is going to take that news very well. It’s also true that the person delivering that ultimatum may not always realize the full ramifications of it. Relationship changes can seriously affect us on social, religious and personal levels. People often decide to opt out of a relationship for all the wrong reasons and without good cause.
Before you tear up those photos of you and your intimate partner on that skiing trip or posing with the Knights at Medieval Times, make sure that you are physically, emotionally and socially ready for such a drastic change. I regularly receive emails from people who end up back in relationships, for better or worse, because they had not considered their next move before walking out. Things sometimes get bitter between people, but that’s not always a good reason to break up.
Any good relationship involves work. Both parties have to be willing to give and take as those opportunities present themselves. If you are unwilling to work at a relationship, stay out of them altogether. There is simply no magical formula to create the perfect love affair. Everyone has faults and, eventually, those faults will make themselves known in a loud and clear way. Love often means being willing to accept those faults in lieu of a good relationship with long-term promise.
Part of making a successful change to your life is understanding the concept of self-esteem. People with low self-esteem rarely admit they are wrong. They make decisions and assign blame based on self-gratification and emotional highs or lows. People with high self-esteem are able to look themselves in the mirror and make a rational assessment of what’s right and wrong with their life. How is your self-esteem?
The first step to good self-esteem is understanding that you are the one responsible for everything you think, feel and do. If you smoke, it’s a choice you made even if your parents had a six-pack a day habit. If you’re overweight, it’s up to you to assess your ability to process food and eat accordingly, even if both your parents and all your relatives are overweight. If your partner makes you feel bad, you’re the one who allows them to influence you in a negative or positive way.
Developing good self-esteem is vital to making positive changes in your life. Part of that development is deciding where you stand on important life choices. Are you honest? Are you sincere? What do others say about you? Do you inspire people? Whether we like it or not, these are all considerations that affect our self-esteem.
In the end, making and following through with a New Years Resolution means having the desire and strength of will to make good choices that will cause a positive change in your life, without causing undue pain to others. Those choices must be based on good self-esteem, an ethical sense of doing what’s right and moving forward in a personal, financial and spiritual sense.