“First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.” — Epictetus
If you want to make a change, start now instead of waiting for some arbitrary date on the calendar. Or at least that’s what I tell myself when new year’s resolution time rolls around. Then comes January 17 and March 22 and October 12 and I still haven’t gotten around to setting some modest goals let alone achieving them.
So, 2018 is one of the rare years I’ll actually write down some resolutions. I haven’t done this in several years, however, so I’ve accumulated so many goals that I’ll fill up several color-coded Excel spreadsheets and need to borrow an architect’s plotter printer for the Gantt chart. Hopefully, I can thin down my list before the clock strikes Midnight.
According to US News, a majority of resolutions fail. Despite that, research shows that resolutions are still a good idea since it moves our goals from contemplation to action:
“I was tired of people saying resolutions never succeed, we shouldn’t even try them,” said Dr. John Northcross, a clinical psychologist at the University of Scranton. So Northcross decided to study people who had the same goals as resolution-makers, and who wanted to make a change, but who didn’t make a formal resolution.
In other words, you might not lose the 25 lbs. you wanted but losing 14 is still an awesome accomplishment. If you make resolutions this year, here are a few tips to make them stick:
Be specific. The most common resolution is “lose weight.” But if you leave it at those two words, it’s unlikely to happen. Instead, say that you want to lose X pounds by X date.
Have a strategy. Break down the goal into bite-sized pieces, such as “get to the gym three times a week” and don’t drive by Darryl’s Donut Drive-Thru on your morning commute.
Monitor your progress. Read through all your goals weekly and track your progress.
Write the reasons you set your goal. Being X pounds lighter will lower my blood pressure, help me be there to see my grandchildren, and when Becky sees me at the high school reunion she’ll regret that break-up in 10th grade.
When you add, you need to subtract. If you plan to invest a few hours a week at the gym, a few hours of other stuff will have to go. Make room for new habits.
One last quote from my favorite old, dead Greek guy:
“Now is the time to get serious about living your ideals. How long can you afford to put off who you really want to be? Your nobler self cannot wait any longer. Put your principles into practice – now. Stop the excuses and the procrastination. This is your life! You aren’t a child anymore. The sooner you set yourself to your spiritual program, the happier you will be. The longer you wait, the more you’ll be vulnerable to mediocrity and feel filled with shame and regret, because you know you are capable of better. From this instant on, vow to stop disappointing yourself. Separate yourself from the mob. Decide to be extraordinary and do what you need to do – now.” — Epictetus