Look far enough into any life and youíll find room for improvement, but in most cases it only takes half a glance Ė my own life not being an exception. As I mature, my ways get set and all too often it easier to adapt to the accustomed inadequacy than it is to change it.
As I sat brainstorming the list of possible New Yearís resolutions, noting all the bad habits and unhealthy lifestyle choices, I tried to imagine what might be needed to create a remedy for each. Itís amazing how a list of personal improvement is so similar to a list of personal failing.
Some treatments obviously demand more commitment than others and I donít have the time and energy to tackle them all at once. Trying to fix everything at the same time would probably just leave your good will burned out by the end of January.
Life is complicated enough Ė why make a burdening lifestyle choice in another direction? Oh right, I almost forgot, itís the only way things eventually get better. Thatís just how it works; productive change requires a great initial effort, but once better choices become habit, the overall quality of life should improve. A founding guideline to any New Yearís resolution usually begins with sacrifice and ends with a worthwhile goal.
A common example is fitness. Youíve got to get your fat rump into the gym before you start to see a pay off and constant reward usually requires constant effort. But being in good shape and staying that way is a lot easier than trying to jump-start those love handles into six packs.
The worst kind of burn is those first long miles on the treadmill, but in the end when youíre flexing those abs for the Myspace photo, youíll know it was worth the effort. Youíll forget about all those torturous hours of slobbering sweat, body aching and embarrassment. You might even ask yourself ďWhy didnít I do this years ago?Ē After a while you actually get addicted to the routine and eventually a day wonít even feel right unless it involves a healthy physical exertion.
Thatís what Iím going to keep telling myself, anyway.
The second resolution on my list is definitely my favorite. As I awoke to my screeching banshee alarm clock at 5:45 a.m. this morning, it became all too clear that the midnight bedtime which has been a staple of my routine since my parents stopped bedding me down when I was ten years old needed a revision. Not that I always go to bed so late, itís just always been that final mark in the night where I try to drop whatever Iím doing and sleep. Too often though one thing or another seems to push my evenings to that highest hour. So Iím resolved to sleep more. I wish I could start right now.
The third item is actually a junk list of small things like cleaning the dishes as theyíre used instead of letting them stockpile like a nuclear arsenal in the kitchen sink. Another is more cooking and less ordering; it saves money but takes more time, itís healthier but less convenient. So Iím trading laziness and time for money and health Ė sounds like a fair trade to me.
There are a lot of other things on the junk list Ė sometimes Iíll even do something positive unintentionally first and then think to add it, as if it was all part of the plan to begin with. I like having the evolving junk list because it reminds me to do the little things and lets me note the baby steps of positive improvement. Some people say half the battle is motivation, but I disagree; itís the whole war and every little sign of encouragement should be taken advantage of.
The most important thing to remember is that by this time next year you want to be able to look in the mirror and say that the past 12 months werenít stagnant. Donít worry if you donít have the six pack just yet. I have a friends who resolve to quit smoking each year and a lot of peopleís resolutions are actually just re-solutions to old habits. Iím sure any exercise you do get didnít do your health any harm and every less cigarette smoked, the better. No one is perfect and unless you were born that way, life is too short not to try and make yourself a better person.
Over time who we are can be steered towards who we want to be. Life is certainly crazy, but weíre not helpless and a degree of control does exist. Weíre each at the helm of our small slice of fate, so grab the wheel and turn it in a direction you want to head.