New Year Resolutions & Realistic Goals
This article was published in the January, 2012 issue of the Richardson Times. I would like to share it with you.
It’s 2012. Can you believe it? Have you already made your New Year resolutions? I must confess that I have not made my New Years resolutions yet. This year, I have decided to be more realistic than in years past. Yes, that’s right. I give myself permission to be realistic and to use common sense in my approach. That doesn’t mean that I am throwing away all of my goals and aspirations for 2012. What it means is that I will not succumb to the pressure of setting unrealistic goals.
Lets’ take a look at the most popular New Year Resolutions for 2012. According to USA.gov the most popular New Year Resolutions are as follows:
- Drink Less Alcohol
- Eat Healthy Food
- Get a Better Education
- Get a Better Job
- Get Fit
- Lose Weight
- Manage Debt
- Manage Stress
- Quit Smoking
- Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle
- Save Money
- Take a Trip
- Volunteer to Help Others
But what is the underlying reason that we need to make these resolutions in the first place? Maybe we can understand it a bit better if we break it down into categories: There are two categories that clearly stand out: health and wealth. Ten out of thirteen listed resolutions fall into these two categories. Only three out of the thirteen listed resolutions revolve around quality-of-life related issues (vacation, the environment, and helping others).
What are your priorities? I believe that we can understand our priorities in life by analyzing how we spend our time. Therefore, I submit to you that it is possible for us to better understand our life by analyzing the roots of our goals and aspirations.
The above list clearly illustrates that our lives need healing. It is important to take this seriously. In fact, it is imperative that we begin the process of healing our lives completely. Health and wellness is not solely about food and exercise. In order to live healthy and meaningful lives, we must surround ourselves with people and things that bring us joy while we spend our time doing what we enjoy and contributing to others in our society.
At this start of 2012, you might consider asking yourself some powerful questions: Are you doing what you love to do? Do you spend your time and energy doing what is meaningful to you with people that you enjoy and love? Are you living your life in such a way that you bring happiness to those around you?
Having the courage to ask yourself those questions and to answer them honestly and objectively can be the catalysts that will help you transform your life into a life filled with excitement and purpose.
So, what is my next goal? My goal is to continue to take baby steps towards achieving a healthy lifestyle, so that I can better serve my community. Here is the plan:
- Feed my soul. I surround myself with friends and family, spirituality, music, art, and a satisfying career.
- Feed my body nourishing foods. I choose a plant-based diet, which is typically lower in fat and calories and higher in filling fiber than meat, dairy and processed foods, while providing needed essential nutrients.
- Drink water. Did you know that most people are chronically dehydrated? In fact, we often mistake thirst for hunger. A good trick is to drink a glass of water when you feel hungry between meals. You might be surprised that the craving for food goes away.
- Chew my food well. Did you know that the digestion process begins in the mouth? When you thoroughly chew your food, you slow down your eating and your body assimilates the nutrients better. You will feel satisfied on less food, because it takes 20 minutes for your brain to register that it is full.
- Eat real food. Avoid products that your grandmother would not recognize. Stay away from foods with high-fructose corn syrup or a long list of unpronounceable ingredients. If the food is highly processed, it will lack the nutrients your body needs. These “foods” are really empty calories.
- Eat breakfast. Every cell in your body needs energy. Breakfast is like fuel for your body. When you skip a meal, your blood sugar is affected, which affects your energy and mood.
- Eat mindfully. I will say a blessing over my food and be grateful. I will sit down for my meals and not eat in a rush. I will savor my food without distractions, and feel relaxed as I enjoy the flavors, aromas and textures of the food. I will slow down.
- Move my body. I will dance, walk, jump and stretch and not feel obligated to join a gym or walk on a treadmill. I will find pleasurable ways of moving my body and will do some type of physical activity every day. Because I enjoy it. And because it makes me feel good.
- Sleep, rest and relax without guilt. I was brought up in a family with an amazing work ethic. Of that, I am proud. However, I never learned to relax. It was always about studying hard or working hard. Being productive was how we measured our self-worth. I have since learned that when you are sleep-deprived or stressed, your body cannot function properly. Often, when a person is sleep deprived, they will crave energy, causing cravings for sugary snacks and caffeine as an energy boost.
- Schedule time for fun. I fill my time with laughter and play and will participate in activities that bring me joy.
There you have it. It’s common sense, simple, easy, doesn’t allow room for guilt, is empowering, and focuses on the positive in order to allow the positive to push out the negative. The process of healing your body empowers you to pursue other changes (like a new job, more money, education) because you are in a healthier frame of mind.
I invite you to make your own list of common sense steps towards a healthy and meaningful 2012. Consider following the 90% rule: do your very best for 90% of the time and allow yourself to indulge the other 10% of the time. This common sense guideline helps assuage any potential feeling of guilt, thereby reducing your stress level. It is a useful rule to follow when it comes to diet as well as for overall living. I also invite you to turn your focus outward by choosing resolutions that will help brighten the lives of others: volunteer, help someone in need, take care of our environment, and be kind to others. Perform a random act of kindness. As Winston Churchill once said: “We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.” Happy 2012.