Making New Year’s Resolutions Stick

English: New Year's Resolutions postcard
English: New Year’s Resolutions postcard (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I didn’t intend to write today, as I’m on double deadline with kids at home (and, uh, I overslept my writing time this morning). But since today is that ubiquitous New Year’s Resolutions day, and I’m someone who has always made generally successful resolutions, I’ll put in my two cents on how to make them stick.

1. Keep them focused. “Get healthy” is amorphous and doomed to fail because you don’t know what it means. What does that mean? Eat more vegetables? Exercise more? Work less?

2. Keep them measurable–and realistic. For instance, I’m setting a goal to practice my flute 3 times a week this year. I’d rather say 5 times a week but the experience of the last few months has taught me that I won’t be able to fulfill that.

3. Focus on the spiritual (i.e. relationships) as well as the physical. You are a body and a soul, and your spiritual and physical health can uplift or undermine each other.

4. Don’t do this today just because it’s New Year’s. It’s an artificial deadline. People don’t like to hear this, but when you’re ready to do something, you simply do it. Two examples: My dad’s father quite smoking cold turkey one day because it was rough on his wife (see what I mean about physical and spiritual/relational?). I started losing weight in October of 2012 without any premeditation whatsoever, simply because someone mentioned the vehicle to make it happen ( This was after a decade of insisting to my husband that I was not capable of losing weight because of factors a) b) and c). When you’re ready to do it, you’ll do it.

5. To conclude, I wrap these suggestions together with a quote from Thomas Merton:

It should be accepted as a most elementary human and moral truth that no man can live a fully sane and decent life unless he is able to say “no” on occasion to his natural bodily appetites. No man who simply eats and drinks whenever he feels like eating and drinking, who smokes whenever he feels the urge to light a cigarette, who gratifies his curiosity and sensuality whenever they are stimulated, can consider himself a free person. He has renounced his spiritual freedom and become the servant of bodily impulse. Therefore his mind and will are not fully his own. They are under the power of his appetites. (From New Seeds of Contemplation)