Helping Your Life Work
January 1, 2006
Volume 2, Issue 1

New Year’s Evolutions

For those who make them, New Year’s Resolutions usually last no more than a few days. The fact that we resolve to make many of the same changes every year would suggest that they are more like New Year’s Revolutions, than Resolutions.

This year, instead of the traditional, I propose that we consider New Year’s Evolutions. Let us accept that change does not occur overnight, that we often need several attempts before we succeed and that sometimes we need to massage the change until it becomes do-able.

Let us evolve slowly and gradually to a change that feels right. If, for example, losing weight is your goal, know that the faster you lose it, the faster you gain it back once you ease up on the new regime. But a slow gradual weight loss generally leads to a more permanent weight loss.

Know also that change includes setbacks, so factor that into the equation. Know that every “failure is only a temporary change in direction to set you straight for your next success.” (Denis Waitley)

Create diversions for yourself. If you tend to binge every night in front of the television, structure your evening with other activities. Go for a walk, read a book, talk to a friend instead.

Writing about the change can also help. If you want to quit smoking, listing your reasons for doing so and carrying that list where you would normally carry your cigarettes may help to reinforce your desire to quit.

You may also consider writing about the change using the goal-setting SMART method as follows:

Specifics: What do you want to change? Why is this important? How are you going to do it? Instead of saying that you want to become healthier, specify what you will do to become healthier (e.g. walk two miles a day)

Measurable: Break down the change into small, measurable components. Avoid the abstract; be concrete about what you want to achieve. Instead of saying “I want to be a better parent,” you could decide to spend 15 minutes every night reading/playing/talking with your child.

Attainable: Choose to change something that is fairly attainable. If you decide you need to become more educated by reading all the great literary geniuses, it’s probably not a good idea to start with Proust.

Realistic: Keep your goals within realistic limits. Giving up TV for a year when you love TV is not as realistic as limiting the amount of TV that you watch to, let’s say, one hour a day.

Timely: Create a timeframe that is in manageable units. “One day at a time” is a good slogan to keep in mind at the beginning.

Finally, when making a change, you may want to enlist the help and support of someone who can assist you emotionally through some of the difficult times.

Good luck.

Barbara Fish, M.Ed.
Personal and Career Counsellor
416 498-1352
“Helping Your Life Work”

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