December 29, 2016

New Year's Resolutions That Might Work

I've never really gotten into the New Year's resolution thing.  It's kind of a recipe for disappointment, in my opinion.  On the night of the year people are most likely to drink champagne, they look over their predicted accomplishments of the closing year, realize they failed at the wildly unrealistic resolutions they made the year before (largely because they never really thought of them after January 4th), attempt to drown their self-loathing in more booze and then, in the enlightened state that ensues, make fresh, new unattainable resolutions!  Surely there is a better way to become the best person you can be.  One that actually has some chance of doing good?

I can think of a few methods to consider and am happy to impart my unfounded but hopeful wisdom upon your eager ears (i.e. eyes).

Be Specific.  Instead of stating your whole goal as your resolution, specify the task you will do that will lead you closer to the desired goal.  How silly is it to say I resolve to lose twenty-five pounds?  Who knows if you can or will?  Why not, instead, aim to adopt a few simple practices that will be beneficial even if you don't achieve the whole goal.  Think of a small, manageable and relatively painless way to begin toward your destination.  Can you switch from white sugar to a natural sweetener and less of it?  If you usually put two spoonfuls of sugar in your tea or coffee, try one and a half for a week.  See how that goes.  You can then decrease it by more the next week or month once that becomes natural.  Not only will it be easier, you have a better chance of succeeding and actually embracing changes that are incremental and gradual.

Set up a win-win scenario.  Make a commitment to an action that will be of benefit even if you fail.  If you want to quit smoking, while you're working on it, resolve to only buy your cigarettes from a small, locally owned shop.  That way, at least if you never attain a smoke-free status, your failure will be bring good to the small business!  Get creative so that even your failures will make you and the world better!

Think Smaller.  Instead of New Year's resolutions, set an earlier check point.  Begin the first day of  first week of the new month of the new year with a New Week's resolution.  Keep your demands and expectations of yourself to manageable increments.  You're small success in the first week will impel you to continue them in the next week and to eventually raise.  Set New Month's resolutions and New Week resolutions.  Each night, you can even set New Day's resolutions!

Make a Plan.  A plan of attack will help keep you from becoming discouraged.  A far away goal may lose its appeal.  A weekly goal can help you keep up your interest and effort.  Consider making a plan for each month to help you increase your momentum throughout the year.  For instance, you could break down your individual resolutions into stages throughout the year, or work on a different goal each month.  If your goal is to get your house organized next year, devote the first month to one room and the next to another and so on.

Reminders.  This is really simple.  When you get your new calendar for the year, write your resolutions (or the various stages you've identified) on each month.  Begin each new month with a reminder and encouragement to keep you going.

Strengthen Your Resolve With Prayer.  Remember to pray for the grace to accomplish those things that will help you become the person God made you to be.  When you write in your reminders of your steps and goals on your new calendar, schedule in a day each month to get to the Sacrament of Confession.  There is no better way to gain the help to overcome harmful habits than through this refreshing sacrament.

"Without being strictly necessary, confession of everyday faults (venial sins) is nevertheless strongly recommended by the Church.  Indeed the regular confession of our venial sins helps us form our conscience, fight against evil tendencies, let ourselves be healed by Christ and progress in the life of the Spirit." (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1458)
 Entrust your resolutions to the Lord of time and happy New Year!

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