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