Thursday, January 1, 2009
A Closer Look at Your Resolutions
From the time I could link a few sentences together to form my first stories in elementary school to the all-nighters I pulled as a college English major, writing paper after paper on Shakespeare, Milton, Bronte, Thoreau, and the like, countless teachers implored me, repeatedly, to "write what you know." Those marching orders remain the driving force behind the content of this Web site. With more than 13 years of experience as a yogi, nearly 9 as a teacher, the topic of yoga lays the foundation for this blog's subject matter; however, it's also peppered with ruminations on everything from recipes to the Red Sox, going green to getting massages, break ups and bargain shopping (you'll just have to take my word on this one- I know break ups and bargain shopping). What you won't see also runs the gamut from mathematical derivatives to the world's best beer stein collections, among other topics with which I have zero experience.
What's that you say? What do I know about making and keeping New Year's resolutions? Turns out, a bit. For example, OmGal.com- this very site- was the product of last year's resolution. Yes, it's true. Check the tape. I joined Blogger during the introspective week between Christmas and New Year's, vowed to start a blog in 2008, gave myself a cursory education on the vast, wacky world of blogging, and, presto, posted Om Gal's first entry on January 16.
I also once vowed that I wouldn't eat sugar, like, for an entire year, which is roughly the equivalent of Angelina Jolie swearing off future adoptions. So, that resolution crashed and burned, yet it helped me refine my strategy. Hence, here are a few factors that I've identified to help maximize the success of your new found goals and aspirations:
1.) Be realistic. In hindsight, my resolution to swear off all sweets was not a recipe for success; it was more like a momentary delusion of grandeur. While lofty goals are admirable and definitely accessible, they require an approach and investment of corresponding gumption. If your heart isn't really invested, you'll throw in the towel well before Superbowl Sunday. Bottom line: choose a goal that you absolutely want to accomplish, one that holds meaning for you. Then, pragmatically plan your approach. If I had completed this step, I would have realized that foregoing any and all sweets for an entire year would pragmatically require hypnosis, a blindfold, and a stun gun- possibly all three.
2.) Be specific. Measurable goals are most effective. "Getting healthy" or "being less stressed" are terrible resolutions, not for the intentions they represent (which are noble and well-meaning) but for their completely nebulous nature. Opt instead to meditate for five minutes daily, exercise (or floss- baby steps, right?) five days a week, give up red meat or soda, or schedule regular sessions with a nutritionist, personal trainer, etc. (decide the frequency in advance!). The key is to map out exactly how you will achieve your goal; break the larger vision down (e.g. losing weight) into manageable bites (no pun intended), such as lose X amount of pounds by date Y, then be sure you know your BMI, how many calories this goal requires, what your chosen form of exercise will be, and when you will do said exercise. In short, you need to quantify your goals, so that they are tangible and available to you all day, every day. You cannot run a marathon until you succeed in running 5 miles, then 7, then 10, 13 . . . you get the picture.
3.) Be patient. It's a New Year's resolution not a New 2-Week's resolution. If you falter, do not miss the opportunity to refocus and begin again. Remember, you are resolving to improve your life, which is a cumulative process with no finish line, but a plethora of small and monumental victories, along the way, for all of us.