New Year's Evolutions
As promised, here is the first of this year's newsletters, recycled from those written over the past six. This particular newsletter first appeared on January 1, 2006. While it was originally intended to be read at the very beginning of the year, I believe it is still timely now, when many of our plans, goals, or New Year's Resolutions for this year may have fallen by the wayside.
For those of us who make them, New Year's Resolutions usually last no more than a few days. The fact that we resolve to make many of the same changes every year would suggest that they are more like New Year's Revolutions, than Resolutions.
So this year, instead of the traditional, I propose that we consider making New Year's Evolutions. Let us accept the fact that change does not occur overnight, that we often need several attempts before we succeed and that sometimes we need to massage the change until it becomes do-able.
Let us evolve slowly and gradually to a change that feels right. If, for example, losing weight is our goal, then we need to understand that the faster we lose it, the faster we gain it back once we ease up on the new regime. Let's accept that a slow gradual weight loss generally leads to a more permanent weight loss.
Let's also recognize that change includes setbacks, so let's factor that into the equation. Let's understand that every "failure is only a temporary change in direction to set you straight for your next success." (Denis Waitley)
Let's create diversions for ourselves. If we know that watching T.V. at night is usually accompanied by a binge of junk food, let's go for a walk when we feel the urge to munch. If we know that going to the bar on Saturday night will inevitably mean drinking more than we had intended, let's plan to go bowling instead.
Writing about the change can also help. If we want to quit smoking, listing our reasons for doing so and carrying that list where we would normally carry our cigarettes may help to reinforce our desire to quit.
We may also consider writing about the change using the goal-setting SMART method as follows:
Specifics: What do we want to change? Why is this important? How are we going to do it? Instead of saying that we want to become healthier, let's specify what we will do to become healthier (e.g. walk a mile a day)
Measurable: Let's break the change down into small, measurable, concrete components. Instead of saying "We want to be better parents," we can say that we will spend 15 minutes every night with our children either reading or playing or talking.
Attainable: Let's choose to change something that is attainable. If we wish to improve our sleeping habits, we need to recognize that setting a 10:00 p.m. bedtime after going to bed at 2:00 a.m. is not going to work.
Realistic: Let's keep our goals within realistic limits. Giving up TV for a year when we love TV is not as realistic as limiting the amount of TV that we watch to, let's say, a couple of hours a day.
Timely: Let's create a timeframe that is manageable. "One day at a time" is a good slogan to keep in mind at the beginning.
Finally, when making a change, we may want to enlist the help and support of someone who can assist us emotionally through some of the difficult times. I'd be happy to help.
Barbara Fish, M.Ed.
Personal and Career Counsellor
“Helping Your Life Work”
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