LIFESTYLES by Ronda Gates Smart Behavior

Resolutions: Round Two

It's the second month of the New Year. If you made a New Year's resolution, "How's that working for you?" as the loud, persistent, but also often on track Dr. Phil would ask?

Ask ten folks, "What does resolution mean to you?" and you're likely to get ten different responses. The computer guru uses words like pixels and image clarity. An attorney describes it as a court decision. Physicians view it as a successful reversal of an abnormal condition such as a subsiding fever or inflammation. My analytical friend who tackles problems describes it as the solution to those problems. But most of us, especially at the beginning of the year, use this powerful word to describe a proposed course of action to make change. We "resolve" to do something that will make our life better.

Some years ago, my love of language triggered deep thought about the use of words that begin with the prefix re-. Add re- to creation and you have recreation: an opportunity to recreate. We recover something we've lost. It could be a material item-a golf club, for example, or intangible-our health or balance.

Reconstruction allows us to put things back together. When we are revitalized we give new life or vigor to our way of living.

Resolution, to me, allows us to resolve -to evaluate a puzzling aspect of our life and attempt to solve it or put it back together. Typically, this involves creation of a formal plan to reach a SMART goal.

Personally, after many years of watching myself and others go through the guilt trip of broken New Year's resolutions, I quit making them. I thought (and taught), "why not resolve to live in such a way that there would be no need to wait until the next January 1 to abandon a bad habit or set a healthy one in motion?" Instead, resolve every morning to live well one more day. (Note I didn't write, "Attempt to resolve...") Every evening, review your day, count blessings, note the three best experiences of the day, mentally express gratitude to yourself for what you accomplished in the last 24 hrs (even if it's nothing) and set the stage to get the necessary sleep to repeat the process the next day.

This approach is atypical. Instead, most folks prefer to resolve or commit to make change when there is a new beginning to support the new way of living. That's why the new year is a natural time to move into the third of the five stages of change: ACTION. After much contemplation (stage 1) and preparation (stage 2), we pledge to act to achieve peak vitality, physical fitness, or personal appearance, or to reduce the use of alcohol, tobacco, or recreational drugs. After acting to achieve our goal, we move on to maintaining (stage 4) our success, and finally to completing (stage 5) the change process.

There's nothing wrong with resolving to stick to a plan you've begun then abandoned in the past. If you do, add muscle to your commitment, by reviewing past efforts to change and pro-actively plan ways to avoid self sabotage this year. Additionally, I offer a challenge. Consider a different kind of resolution for the rest of 2012. Here are eleven suggestions-one for every remainiing month of 2012.

  1. Risk the experience of a new exercise and/or nutrition strategy that assures a well-rounded way of life. Exercise-wise that's a program of aerobic and anaerobic conditioning, flexibility, coordination and balance. (See the Oasis Center list of classes and description of other activities in this copy of Leisure World News.) In the case of nutrition, avoid adding sugar or fat to your diet. Assure your food intake includes colorful foods from each of the food groups.
  2. Adopt a stress management skill such as deep breathing, meditation, affirmations, or visualization.
  3. Schedule an annual physical with your physician as part of a pro-active approach to your health.
  4. Take yourself on a date that will restore your spirit; for example, visit a gallery or see a play.
  5. Volunteer to help someone in need achieve a better life.
  6. Anonymously, do something that makes the world a better place.
  7. Buy and use a journal to record daily emotions and feelings.
  8. Explore the "pay it forward" challenge. When someone does you a favor, instead of paying them back, pay it forward.
  9. Develop a habit that saves energy: using special light bulbs, walking instead of riding, carpooling or riding a bus to work, turning your heating system down one degree or not wasting water,
  10. Schedule a self-care experience such as a massage or spa treatment.
  11. Give up worrying in favor of enjoying the moment.

Even if you implement only one of these (or make up your own), you will be able to look back at the end of the year and say, "Yes, this year my resolution made a difference. I've the clarity of the computer guru, the decisiveness of a attorney's court decision, the reversal of unhealthy patterns that would please a physician and, best of all, I've solved a problem."

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LIFESTYLES by Ronda Gates
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