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New Year’s resolutions — and how to make them stick

When I was a member of a local gym for many years, there was one sure thing that we regulars could count on — a sudden influx of new gym members in January. We used to joke about it — “Here they come, and they’ll be gone in three weeks!” You could almost bank on it.

Well now, I’m trying not to be one of them! That’s right, after a two-year “rest” I have made a New Year’s resolution to improve my fitness.

What is it about the start of a new year that makes us want a do-over or a make-over? Some of us want to lose weight, travel, get a better job, or be a better husband/wife/son/daughter or friend. It may be that we reflect back on the past year, or the past several years, and say to ourselves, “This is not the way I want to be” or “I can do better.” This reminds me of one of my favorite quotes: “A time comes when you have to stop waiting to become the person you want to be and start being the person you want to be.” (Bruce Springsteen)

So, why change things up at the beginning of a new year? I think it’s because it’s as good a time as any. New year, new beginnings, better me. If it just so happens that the start of the new year causes us to reflect on how we can better ourselves — whether it be personally, spiritually, physically, or even professionally — then that’s great. Just the act of reflection and recognizing that we can do better or be better is cause for celebration. We are imperfect beings, but our willingness to look at ourselves objectively and want to improve in some fashion is the first step toward some level of self-fulfillment.

One of the best ways to prevent ourselves from being just another one of “them” involves a three-step process: Self-Reflection, Action, and Maintenance. We’ve already covered Self-Reflection. Action is the next step, the starting of whatever process that will eventually lead us to become who/what we want to be. Finally, continuing on the path to self-improvement is accomplished through Maintenance.

Try thinking of those three steps as a circle, so that when the going gets tough in the Maintenance step, we go back to Reflection and think about why we wanted to make that change. It’s OK to get off-track, have misfires, etc. — remember, we’re imperfect beings. However, if we keep the circle going there’s a good chance we won’t be one of “them.” Have faith, stay focused, good luck and Happy New Year!