Don’t Make Resolutions, Make Meaningful Decisions

Bell'albero     It came sudden and hit hard. The dreaded “holiday flu”.  For three solid days I have been able to do little more than open my eyelids and let them fall shut again. The treasure at the core of this little glitch along the road, was that I got a much needed rest, and of course a pause for reflection. I had time to really think about the changes I have made to my life in the past year, and the way in which I have a tendency to make them. I examined what I think are my accomplishments, and my mistakes (which make me strive to do different and better); and I also reassessed how I might zero in with much more focus on what really matters to me, as the clock ticks, and each second bids me adieu forever. You and I have but one precious life. We think about these things especially when our health is compromised.

When all is said and done, what counts most for me is good HEALTH.  Good health gives me the energy and the stamina to change and shape my life around a foundation of what feels meaningful to me.

TIME, is also the most extraordinary gift. It is the one resource that never multiplies no matter how much we try to hoard it or invest it. With the luxury of time, I can create what I was meant to, socialize with good people, do something that makes someone else smile, enjoy my family, take a long walk along the shoreline with my pup, settle under the covers reading a great book—or even writing one 🙂

Without my health and  time to enjoy my life, none of my hopes and dreams would ever come to fruition.

As a behavioral psychologist, I know that most New Year’s Resolutions typically fall flat on their face in a short period of time, even when rewards (reinforcers) are built into the plan. In my opinion, there are two things that stop us from really changing what we say we want to change:

1.       Sometimes we set goals without examining what the implication of these goals really mean to our lives.  For example, a “resolution” to lose weight sounds great, but what does carrying that extra weight really mean to you? Does it mean you have been saying no to summer pool parties, or picnics on the beach for the past decade because you have been too embarrassed to wear a bathing suit? Does it mean in addition to the extra weight, you have also been carrying around a nagging worry that you might suffer a heart attack like someone in your ancestry did? Now imagine how you would really free yourself of all of these self-imposed limitations if you simply lost the weight you need to lose without fanfare and without gimmicks or extreme programs. Any reasonable path will do thus the path is not so important as long as you keep your eye on the horizon where you hope to arrive.  When you align your goals with meaningful priorities,  you no longer need once-a-year resolutions. What is required at this point is a non-negotiable life decision; a decision that you renew with commitment every single day. And this is my second insight:

2.       Once you have zeroed in on YOUR most meaning goals, it is time to make some decisions. Start by doing your homework, however, once you are reasonably sure of your general direction, don’t waste time second-guessing yourself or agonizing over each detail.  NEWSFLASH: No decision is perfect anyway, and few are irreversible.  Just stay committed to making whatever you have decided, produce the best outcome ever.  In other words “bloom where you are planted”, and give it some time before you change course. If you decide on a vegetarian diet, for example, because you are against eating animals, or because you want food to become more your medicine, then don’t start wishing you had chosen a high animal protein diet at the first twinge of missing a hot dog.

So what decisions have I made since my bout with this season’s flu?

Raeleen’s Health and Time Goals (in no particular order):

  • More sleep, meditation, and rest
  • More family and friend time
  • More Laugher and fun
  • More Home cooking
  • More Italy
  • More staying active/less staying seated
  • More buying what I need to make me look (and feel) my best
  • More creative time

These are not resolutions. I don’t need a series of steps to reach them. They are decisions that give my life meaning and to which I will renew my commitment for all of the days I am given.

Happy New Year, Dear Readers. From the bottom of my heart, I wish YOU the most meaningful , blessed, and joyful 2013!

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