Ring in the New Year with doable resolutions

For more years than I care to remember, I have painstakingly made New Year’s resolutions. I begin my list very early and fine tune it in the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day.
Some resolutions that I have made, I have acted on. To name a few—watch old sit-coms and laugh every day, get a dog, drink less coffee.
On the other hand, some seem to be on my list every year. And one of those that appears year after year is “be on time.”
Actually, I am making some progress. When I entertain, I no longer have to rush around at the last minute. I often have a moment to sit in an easy chair and prepare for my guests.
But I still have a difficult time getting ready in the morning. Usually, I sheepishly enter my strength training and water aerobics classes after they begin.
That’s why “be on time” once again is on my 2003 list.
Just as some resolutions keep re-appearing year after year, others may become obsolete and need to be revised. Take, for instance, a resolution made by my swimming friend, Julie.
As a young woman, Julie had a goal to have her house in perfect order and clutter-free all the time. But by age 60, she realized that was the wrong goal. She was a slave to her house. She said, “I was missing out. It was a burden.”
So she made a new resolution—to welcome friends any time whether her house was messy or not. After all, people are more important than a perfect house!
On average, each American makes one or two New Year’s resolutions a year. Unfortunately, according to Steve Levinson, co-author of the book “Following Through,” those good resolutions vanish quickly.
“One in four resolutions bites the dust within a week,” says Levinson. And “half of them are gone within a month.”
His research reports that after six months, most New Year’s resolutions are dead.
Why is it that a fresh new year motivates us to better ourselves? And why are we so unsuccessful at following through on our wonderful resolutions? Could it be because we make the wrong resolutions? Are they too painful?
Or do we make resolutions because someone else thinks we should?
The most common New Year’s resolutions relate to health—losing weight, exercising more, eating healthy foods, and giving up smoking. All important resolutions. But are they too difficult?
Levinson advises it’s very important to choose resolutions with care—for a failed resolution can lead to another failure. And too many failed resolutions can become a habit.
So this year, make resolutions that are doable. For instance, if you want to lose weight, don’t go overboard. Set goals you actually can achieve, such as losing five pounds and developing an enjoyable exercise routine.
Or resolve to laugh with your friends. After all, even cardiologists are saying that laughter may be the best medicine when it comes to protecting your heart.
So, even if you don’t usually make New Year’s resolutions, why not make some this year. Choose doable resolutions you really want to accomplish, and look forward to a year of growth and success in 2003.
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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