Look ahead for a wonderful year

It seems I have a strong habit of looking ahead—way ahead. As a result, I had three 50th birthdays.
On my 48th birthday, I thought, “I’m almost 50.” And all year, I thought of myself as 50 years old.
Then, when my 49th birthday came, I was very surprised. I wasn’t even 50!
As a result, I felt very young during my 50th year.
Now, once again during this holiday season, I’m looking ahead to next year–2009 and even 2010–and making New Year’s resolutions.
But before framing this year’s list, I looked at my 2008 resolutions. No. 1 was “Be on time” and No. 2 was “Laugh and have fun.”
Were they kept?
Well, I had lots of fun in 2008 and laughed heartily when there was occasion. I even laughed out loud in bed last Saturday night after watching Hyacinth in Keeping up Appearances earlier in the evening. That’s one down!
As for being on time, I haven’t made much progress, although that has been my #1 resolution for years. But I don’t really feel too badly because I have lots of company.
In my New Year’s folder was a December, 1995 clipping from U.S. News and World Report asking, “What’s your top resolution for 1996?”
In late 1995, people had lofty goals. Quit smoking. Lose weight. Exercise more. Spend less or save more. Eat more healthfully. Spend more time with family. I wonder how many of those people still will have the same resolutions for 2009—13 years later.
According to the 1995 article, one in three made the same top resolution in 1994, and people older than 55 were more likely than younger people to have the same resolutions for the next year.
That makes a lot of sense to me. As you get older, you should realize that you’ll never become perfect, but that’s no reason to stop trying.
In December, 2008, CNN reported that the top New Year’s resolutions are save money, lose weight, develop healthy habits, and quit smoking. Oddly reminiscent of 1995.
No wonder! CNN also reports that four out of five Americans don’t stick with their resolutions.
Still, just because you didn’t exercise and didn’t lose that extra weight in 2008, is that a reason to give up?
No, says Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN chief medical correspondent. Gupta says that “confidence and commitment are key. You have to believe that you can change and have enough willpower to make that change.”
“Persistence does pay off,” she says, citing a long-term study by the University of Washington that found that only 40 percent of people who stick to their #1 resolution did it on the first try.
The rest had to try multiple times; 17 percent finally reached their goal after more than six attempts.
“Resolutions are easy to make, easy to break,” says Gupta. “If you want to stick with them, you have to develop a plan.”
The new year represents a time to turn over a new leaf. So this week, why not finalize your goals for 2009 and develop a plan to fulfill them. Then think about what a wonderful year you can have!
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at thisside60@aol.com or visit www.visit-snider.com

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