I don’t create New Year’s Resolutions because, for myself and most others I know, they don’t last. As we have just crossed the threshold from 2018 to 2019, this topic is fresh on people’s radar.
Diets, gym membership and smoking cessation programs take upticks at this time of year. At my gym where I work out 3-4 times a week, I notice that the machines are more occupied right before and right after Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve/Day. Does motivation run higher at those times or are people simply pre-emptively burning off calories?
I wonder if more folks attend 12-step meetings post holidays as a way of starting the New Year with a clean slate. It also seems that collective energy catapults people into positive change. If family and friends alter their behavior together, it is so much more productive than when engaged in alone. They also become accountability partners for each other.
I believe in the power of intention, action, and accountability. I used to sleepwalk through life with a laissez-faire attitude and let the chips fall where they may. I felt powerless to take the necessary steps to prevent what I didn’t want to keep from happening. I took far less responsibility in my earlier adulthood than I do as I am in my 60s. I know that if I am fully invested in any experience it is more likely to succeed than if I ‘half ass it’. Someone familiar with the credo of Navy Seals says that they speak of being ‘all in’. You can’t enter a room completely with each foot on either side of the threshold. Neither can you expect the car to steer itself with you behind the wheel.
These days, I am mindful, considering, “If I say or do this, here is the likely outcome.” Not that I plan out every detail, but I visualize what I do want. I realize that I am responsible for being ‘all in’. Life is like the hokey pokey; it’s much more fun if you put your whole self in. Each day I do at least one thing to forward my goals. For example, I want to be healthier, so I went to the gym yesterday to round out 2018 and just got back from the first workout of 2019. I’m not going to be fanatical about it as I was back in 2014, when I was there 5-6 times a week. Three to four visits a week will do nicely.
Since I want to get my writing out into the world in more expansive ways, I am needing to write every day and send articles to the various sites for which I write, intending that they land right where they need to so that more people read them and reap benefit.
I don’t have the luxury of waiting for things to fall into place without doing the legwork. I have a daily routine that gets me rolling
- Before my feet hit the floor, I utter a prayer of gratitude for the new day that is from the Jewish tradition in which I was raised. “Modeh/Modah ani lifanekha melekh chai v’kayam shehecḥezarta bi nishmahti b’cḥemlah, rabah emunatecha. I give thanks before you, King living and eternal, for You have returned within me my soul with compassion; abundant is Your faithfulness!”
- I then set intention to have an extraordinary day and connect with amazing people.
- Next step is taking care of bodily functions, of course.
- As a result of a heart attack in 2014, a med regimen is in order. I don’t have the luxury of forgetting to take them in the morning and at night. Lately, I have added supplements for aching knees and hips.
- Healthy breakfast to get me motoring and keep the engine running.
- I make my bed. This is something I have done each day for as long as I can remember. It was reinforced in this speech by Naval Adm. William H. McRaven. He says, “If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another. By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter. If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.”
- I check emails and social media to see what has happened in the world while I slept. Since some of my work involves writing and promotion, those are important tasks.
- I go to the gym and as a point of accountability, I take a photo and post it.
- I write articles, see clients, schedule classes and workshops and do household chores.
- I socialize with and or/call family and friends as time permits.
- Throughout the day, I express gratitude for what is occurring. If there is a roadblock or detour with my plans, I give thanks for them too. Not as easy to do, but I notice that I am more likely to experience what I think about and thank about.
- At the end of the day, before I drift off, I recite another prayer from my childhood and once again, acknowledge my blessings. I don’t see myself as religious, but rather, spiritual with a connection to a Higher Power, what I refer to in 12-step parlance as The God of my understanding.
When I asked people to chime in on this topic, here are some of the responses:
“Since I am blessed to have 2 new year’s observances about 3 months apart, (The Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah) I use the fall to reflect on personal qualities I’d like to shift–spiritual betterment, for lack of a better descriptor. In January, it’s more about what I’d like to see come into my life in the coming year and ways I’d like to engage with the world.”
“Good plan to not plan and to be flexible.”
“I begin each day with breathwork and meditation and ask the universe what I need to do next. Most days I receive some sort of message. Learning to be patient when no message is forthcoming seems to be my most difficult lesson.”
“Planning can sometimes be as long as what you wish to accomplish, but here is one time I always go back to my military training, ‘If you fail to plan, plan to fail.’ I don’t do failing well, like you said, there’s not enough time for that.”