Remember those New Year’s resolutions you made?

By Sondra Whitt

Did you make any New Year’s resolutions? Now that we’re a few weeks into 2019, how are you doing on those resolutions? Uh huh, I thought so. Well, I’m right there with you.

Like many people, I made a resolution to be more physically fit and healthy. I actually made it back in 2018 and started going to the YMCA, three times a week, doing Tai Chi, a cardio workout and a strength-training workout. Even though I’d only been doing it for about a month or so, when I went to the doctor for a checkup, my bloodwork numbers had improved, and I felt better. I was more energized and motivated.

Then the holidays came along and guess what? Diet and exercise became a nuisance. Then a week of flu hit me pretty hard and left me weak and tired. That was followed by a week of being out of town, helping my elderly parents. So, instead of going to the Y I just started asking, “Why?” As in, “Why not skip today?” My reason — or in reality my excuse — is that I’m just too tired after not sleeping well the night before or I have to keep this appointment that falls during the class time. I could probably come up with others. What kind of excuses do you make to not do what you know you should do?

Before long skipping a day at the Y turned into skipping a month and it’s been really, really hard to get back on track. I know my story is not unique. When we get off-track, we tend to beat ourselves up about failing, then we give up completely, thinking what’s the use of trying.

We can get back on track if we allow ourselves some grace and remember that change is a process. Changing a pattern of behavior doesn’t happen overnight. We experience relapses. Instead of giving into self-defeating attitudes that typically accompany relapses, we can reflect on our past patterns — yes, even our relapses and ask ourselves: Why did I get off track? What’s my pattern of behavior in situations like this? Then, look to the future: Why do I want to accomplish this in the first place? How will my life be better if I do achieve this? What can I do to help myself stay on track? “Failures don’t plan to fail; they fail to plan,” says Harvey MacKay. It’s easy to make resolutions but without actually making a plan to accomplish those resolutions, they soon fall by the wayside.

We have to visualize the change we want, as well as remind ourselves of our desired future results. We need a plan that allows small achievements along the way to a bigger dream — a purpose that is bigger than just losing weight and looking better. Think about it like this, “If I’m not healthy, how can I fulfill my purpose?” or “If I’m not healthy, how can I (you fill in the blank)?”

Writing this has been a good exercise for me to think about why I got off track, what my pattern of behavior is when I do get off track, why I want to get fit and healthy — both for now and the future, and what I can do to help myself stay on track. But that’s not enough. I have to visualize the change. Seeing the results in my mind’s eye provides inspiration and motivation to stay on track.

Now is a good time to revisit your resolutions. The question isn’t just how are you doing? The better question is why. When you answer that question the how will get easier.

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