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I entitled this post 'New Year's Resolutions' for a simple reason: I don't make any. I used to but made progress on them for only about a week or so, then fell back into old habits. You know, the old standards: more exercise, watch the diet, quit smoking. Whoops, well, I can't claim I ever made a resolution to quit smoking since I never started.
I've been thinking about the end of the year for a couple weeks now and I have come to the conclusion that resolutions for a new year are ill-timed. Let me explain.
A new year, a fresh start on 'life'. Right? That's what many people think. Every year news reports feature the resolutions people make. But they make them anywhere from a day before the start of the new year to a month or two before. “Starting January 1, I will...”
Why January first? What I mean is, are you going to continue to do the same bad things up until January first, then suddenly change? I can almost guarantee failure. Why? Because we aren't geared that way.
I remember one new year, when I was living in Kewanee, Illinois at my first 'real' job out of college. I'd made the resolution to exercise more, to get out and jog. So, on a cold January 1 morning, I woke up early, before I had to head off for work, dressed in warm clothes, and jogged out and back for about five minutes each way. Now this was a couple years before I would begin martial arts, so my body was not in good shape, my stamina zero.
When I arrived back at the apartment I was sweating, cold, out of breath, and exhausted. I don't remember how many more days I jogged in the morning, but the routine didn't continue like I had wanted. Why? Because I couldn't just get up and do that sort of thing without training first. Without preparing.
Besides, January 1 is NOT a good day to go outside and run. Too cold.
I'm trying to make a point and it is: Why wait until January first? If you'd made the decision to start exercising, watching your diet, or whatever, back in November or in the middle of December, why didn't you start then? I can almost predict you didn't make any plans to adjust to your resolution before the first day of January. You didn't put down the Twinkie, you didn't resist the cigarette, you didn't go for a walk on the treadmill at the gym. No, you probably did what I did back in Kewanee. Made the decision and on January 1 you went ahead and started something that your body protested from minute one.
If you want to change, then start when you've made the decision to change. But start slow. Don't jump into something because in all likelihood, you'll fail, or worse, injure yourself. Start with little changes. By doing that, you've already started your resolution.
Instead of making a resolution to start 'something' January 1, make a goal. “By March 1, I will have...” If you set a goal, then you can plan how and when you can start to reach that goal and maybe the steps along the way. It's why I outline each story I write. I see the goal. If I just started writing with no clear ending point, I wouldn't know where the story needed to go.
I want to mention two people who have impressed me this past year with the things I've heard them say. The first is Joyce Meyer. If you don't know who she is, look her up. I've listened to several sermons she's conducted. She's been in the ministerial business for a long time, is on television in front of crowds of multiple hundreds or thousands.
Anyway, on one of the sites for which I review, I chose one of her audio books, entitled, “You Can Begin Again.” It went through several chapters on how to make changes in your life, when to start, how to start, and of course it mentioned developing a closer relationship with God. What impressed me about this was she said it's never too late to start again. (Of course, I had to disagree with her on that point with just a minor point that it's too late when you're dead. But I also think she knew that.)
She reminded me of those criminals who converted after many years in prison, or the person who waited until 90 to find God. I thought of the example I saw on a Richard Simmons special. (Yeah, and don't ask me why I was watching a Richard Simmons special. I don't know.) It showed a woman so obese she couldn't get out of bed. She started watching a Simmons exercise program and started doing small arm movements. She worked herself down to a more reasonable weight.
As I mentioned above, small things. This woman didn't heave herself out of bed and run five miles. She started with arm movements and probably consulted with her doctor on diet plans.
Anyway, Meyer impressed me with something obvious – that you can begin again if you want. It may be tough, but you can do it.
The second person this last year I kept an eye on was a former ATA instructor who lived in Sigourney awhile ago, Nathan Kirby. He moved down to Little Rock where he eventually departed with ATA and started his own gym and involved with MMA fighting.
This last year he began making short videos he posted on Facebook. Motivational vids with him in the gym or driving in a car. It was as if he had an inspiration and turned on the camera and started talking. In one of them he discussed life changes. To paraphrase, he said that if you feel your life isn't what you wanted, what what you hoped, isn't going well, then there's something else out there and you should seek and find it. Discover what is wrong and make plans to change it. Yes, he mentioned God, too.
Kirby's videos are like a motivational push. They dig into your brain and act like a support platform off which you can jump into something beneficial. Sure, they're simple and say a lot of the things you've probably heard before, but Kirby's energy is what comes through. He's made only a few of them (let me correct myself in that I've seen only a few of them) and I wish he'd make more.
I'm not being critical about resolutions, not demeaning them. If you want to make, them, fine. I'm just saying that don't wait until the beginning of 2016 to start acting upon decisions to change things in your life. Make plans and begin now.
Have you had any resolutions succeed/fail?