Itís a New Year, a fresh beginning. The resolutions are as grand as our imagination with a drink in hand: Lose an exorbitant amount of weight, exercise daily like professional athletes, climb the highest rung on the ladder at work, do volunteer work and community service, get more involved in our childrenís schools, recreate the greatest love story ever told and act more considerately to the in-laws. Yeah right! There is a huge interim from January to January. At the first sign of stress, we relapse into our old habits. But why canít we implement beyond the first couple of weeks at best? Is it because at the root of our resolution lies the need to impress others?
This year instead of raising your glass high, raise your personal status Ė immediately. Most people need accountability and cheer leaders for a change to take hold. This year, how about becoming accountable to yourself? Instead of making resolutions on the spur of the moment, make a commitment to just one goal of self-improvement, for you and no one else. This means you are not losing weight because the media makes you feel fat or doing volunteer work to impress others with your kindness. This yearís special goal(s) needs to emanate from your heart. For example, do you need to see a life coach, break down your goal into its smallest parts, see a nutritionist and attend a support group when you want to vacation in Tuscany? Why should your other sincere goals be different?
Interesting, when your goal is internally driven, the accompanying perk is better health. For example, many women are self-silencers. They do not speak up during a marital spat or ask the boss for a raise. Instead, at the first sign of conflict they tiptoe around the house or the office trying to keep the peace, suppressing their feelings and thoughts. Now if a self-silencer commits to expressing her true feelings, she will improve her health at the same time. The famous ten-year Framingham research study on cardiovascular health discovered this striking fact: Women who kept their feelings to themselves during conflicts had a four times greater risk of dying. At the very least they were more likely to suffer from depression and irritable bowel syndrome as summarized in the Harvard Womenís Health Watch
(Jan., 2008). So, if you are a self-silencer, by making a commitment to expressing your truth in the coming year, you will create better health for both your mind and body as a bonus benefit.
To ensure that you keep on track manage your stress, especially the little stressors which accumulate daily to sap your vitality and cause you to engage in self-sabotage. Stress will always land on your doorstep, but you donít have to constantly open the door!
If the new you regresses to old knee-jerk stressors, consider the usual triggers and let it go:
- I am tired
- I misunderstood
- I am being a worrier
- I think other people are my clones
- I set too-high expectations which others canít meet
To make sure that you stay committed to your new goal to release the true you take a weekly inventory to evaluate what is working for you and what isnít. This way you are avoiding the huge gap of January to January. Sunday night is a great time for evaluation and tweaking as you are planning out your week which gives you a weekly opportunity for a fresh start: Happy New Week!
Debbie Mandel, MA is the author of Addicted to Stress: A Woman's 7 Step Program to Reclaim Joy and Spontaneity in Life
, Changing Habits: The Caregivers' Total Workout
and Turn On Your Inner Light: Fitness for Body, Mind and Soul,
a stress-reduction specialist, motivational speaker, a personal trainer and mind/body lecturer. She is the host of the weekly Turn On Your Inner Light Show on WGBB AM1240 in New York City , produces a weekly wellness newsletter, and has been featured on radio/ TV and print media. To learn more visit: www.turnonyourinnerlight.com