copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert. BeThink.org
Come 2009, I will commence on a new path. I will exercise regularly, smoke not at all. A healthy diet will become my regime. On Monday, January 5, my life mission will be realized in my work. The opportunity to inaugurate again, to give birth to me at my best will inspire a rejuvenation. Today, I resolve to . . . not make a single New Years resolution. In truth, I never have committed to change. Yet, the person you see before you is not the same being that might have appeared on any other day, of any other year. I have evolved, and so do we all.
As the New Year approaches, I reflect on a reality I see and hear everywhere. People far and wide seek a novel strategy, one that has never appealed to persons such as I. Most everyone is ready for a new reality. Individuals are intent. Now is the time to begin anew. Resolutions are rampant.
No matter where an individual might reside, the calendar motivates people to review, reflect, and revise schedules that did not work as well as once envisioned. Pages in an almanac pass, and people presume, surely, these sheets of paper were meant to show signs of progress. Most ponder; twelve months of misery or mindless maneuvers. It is time for a change. Yet, the mantra few admit to on January 1st, is the one individuals maintain throughout their lives, ‘people do not change.’ Experts espouse there is evidence for this belief.
Dr. Edward D. Miller, Dean of the medical faculty at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, refers to the more than 70 percent of coronary bypass patients who revert to unhealthy habits within two years of corrective surgery. Although two-thirds of Americans believe they weigh seventeen pounds more than their ideal weight, few are able to shed the pounds. In a recent study, nutritional specialists at Duke University affirmed that two-thirds of dieters gain back any lost weight within a year.
While more than seventy-four percent [74%] of the Americans who are willing to confess, they smoke express a desire to give up the habit, 67% of these say they are addicted to cigarettes. Even the most sanguine studies state “20 to 40 percent of participants are able to quit smoking and stay off cigarettes for at least one year.” For nearly everyone, a New Years Resolution is no more than a trial declaration. People propose; “I will try.” Rarely do individuals voice a determined decision to do.
As I said, I never did. My fear of failure secured my silence. Personally, while it appeared that I battled with unhealthy habits, these were not my genuine challenge. My fear for the change I thought would never come, a career that fosters contentment, a close connection with a compassionate someone who would not suffocate me, a personal sense of fulfillment were the greater challenges.
Severe trepidation told me I could not achieve as I believed best. Even if I thought the impossible probable in time, I trusted that a resolution would not help me realize a transformation. Some might have said I was resistant, resigned to life as it was.
Certainly, Marion Kramer Jacobs, a Clinical Psychologist in Laguna Beach, California could concur with such a conclusion. Doctor Jacobs offers the decree, defeatist yearn to hear. “We’re hard-wired not to change quickly.” She declares; “Think of what chaos would ensue if you could snap your finger and change instantly tomorrow. You would be one person today, someone else tomorrow.”
The author of “Take-Charge Living: How to Recast Your Role in Life . . . One Scene at a Time,” is cited amongst those who contend the challenge to change may have evolutionary origins. She and other experts in human behavior surmise, mankind is accustomed to hierarchies. Rules, regulations, [even traditional resolutions] inform us. Societal structures require us to know our roles and perform them dutifully. Oh, how we do.
Governments guide us. Policymakers pass laws. People obey. Entrepreneurs employ us. Bosses bark of business strategies. Supervisors boom orders to subordinates. Laborers walk in lockstep. Families flourish when parents lead the little ones. Therefore, the accepted theory seems to be a person cannot change without assistance. Community, career, and domestic counselors count on this conviction.
Constituents are elated change has come in the form of a new President, Barack Obama.
Small business owners are advised if they follow a profound plan, they too will be transformed. “Clarify and Simplify,” create an action plan for your workforce, soon all will be well. Certainly, a focused staff with will reap fiscal rewards.
Experts also seek to assist employees. Articles and airwaves are filled with plans, Again Americans are presented with secrets for success. Follow this strategy and realize your dreams; secure your resolution. Persons accustomed to being told what to do read essays such as, What says ‘hire me!’ to employers.
Dieters are delivered dictums. The plump are given programs to eliminate the excess pounds; 5 small changes to help you lose weight. Yes, fat persons, just as those fit to be tied by debt, an addiction to cigarettes, alcohol, or other penchants, are ready to follow the steps anyone might present. The hope is they might avoid another year of harrowing habits.
“Most of us think that we can change our lives if we just summon the willpower and try even harder this time around,” said Alan Deutschman, the former Executive Director of Unboundary, a firm that counsels corporations on how to alter business agendas. Mister Deutschman, author of “Change or Die,” declares in his diary, while most people have the ability to alter behaviors and attitudes, they rarely do. “It’s exceptionally hard to make life changes and our efforts are usually doomed to failure when we try to do it on our own.”
Perchance that is why most turn to friends or more frequently family for moral support. Authorities who admit a personal life is not as predictable as supposed facts, figures, and formulas might pretend it to be, give parents recommendations that provide greater flexibility. As 2008 exits, and 2009 enters, Moms and Dads are invited to resolve that they cannot solve every problem. This is the truth most people believe. Good intentions, while admirable, do not achieve results. Yet, men, women, and children never stop trying to transform others or themselves.
Perchance, rather than accept the rituals, adopt our roles, or obligate our selves to rules that dictate a future of failure, we might resolve to recognize that change comes slowly. Transformation travels from within. Growth is a process. Dreams are not realized in an instant.
As infants, we did not walk or talk. Toddlers have few tales to tell and narrate none exceptionally well. Children can make choices; however, by the time they are teens the decision to run out into the street, against traffic, may not seem wise. Little humans change constantly, as do bigger-in-mind-and body beings.
Young adults will assess all they knew again and again. What a woman or man, in her or his twenties, thinks is best may not be what the same individual at thirty would advise. Resolve, as I have, no matter the day or eve, New Year, or old, that rather than bemoan the research that elucidates why eighty percent [80%] of people will not successfully embark on self-renewal projects, embrace that you are, just as I am, not as we were. Tomorrow, we will not be as we are.
I resolve to remember change is a constant. My path is well traveled. At times, I tripped. I fell from the healthier course and then I picked myself up. Harmful habits went by the wayside with help from me. Friends, family, and experts may have lent a hand. However, they could not do what only I could achieve for myself. On this, the First day of January, I resolve to recall that I have evolved.
Resources for Resolutions . . .
- Average American Weighs 17 Pounds More Than “Ideal.” By Frank Newport. Gallup. November 28, 2007
- Most Americans Consider Smoking Very Harmful. Gallup. July 28, 2008
- Smoking Cessation. American Heart Association. January 1, 2009
- So, you’ve lost 100 pounds. Now what? The struggle to stay slim doesn’t end, even after the fat pants are gone, By Bonnie Taub-Dix, R.D. MSNBC News. April 18, 2008
- Planning for a Happier New Year, By Paul B. Brown. The New York Times. December 30, 2008
- Parenting Resolutions, By Lisa Belkin. The New York Times. December 31, 2008
- New Year, New You? Nice Try, By Alex Williams. The New York Times January 1, 2009
- Poll: Obama leadership rates high as Bush’s after 9/11, By Paul Steinhauser. Cable News Network. December 31, 2008
- 5 small changes to help you lose weight. Cable News Network. January 1, 2009
- Smoking, weight, money top New Year’s resolutions, By Adam Crisp. The Chattanooga Times Free Press. MSNBC News. January 1, 2009
- Blame brain for failing to keep New Year’s resolution. Daily Telegraph. December 31, 2008
- Experts warn against going cold turkey. Daily Telegraph. December 31, 2008