How to Make Achievable New Year Revolutions

Discussion in 'Chit Chat' started by JLH, Jan 30, 2007.

  1. JLH

    JLH New Member

    How to Make Achievable New Year Revolutions

    The annual tradition of making New Year's resolutions can be a source of stress for those with a chronic illness. Sometimes we're just so overwhelmed with getting through the day, that committing to more demands on our
    time and psyches seems unfathomable. And to some, forcing ourselves to adhere to a list of rules and regulations smacks of unrealistic expectations. But it doesn't have to be that way.

    Since I became ill, I tried for a few years to shy away from making those annual promises to myself, thinking it would be freeing to not try to manipulate my behavior, just because a new year had arrived. I ended up
    feeling a bit empty and aimless and realized I actually missed the process of goal setting. I discovered that it can actually be healthy to pause in December and reflect upon the past 12 months and consider what went well and what did not, and whether any changes in the future could be beneficial. This is not a time to beat oneself up for not being perfect, but rather to honestly evaluate whether the past year's goals were realistic and whether it
    would be wise to either change the goals or the actions.

    The key here is honesty. We must be honest that we are not meant to be perfect. We must acknowledge that certain aspects of our illnesses might be unchangeable, no matter how much we may wish otherwise. We must also admit to ourselves that our activities and goals may need to be on a smaller scale than a healthy person's might be. And that if we are unable to successfully carry out a resolution due to health changes we could not have predicted, that is not our fault. We have to expect a few curve balls from life.

    Once we have been honest with ourselves, we are ready to decide what goals we want to have. If the resolutions are realistic ones, the chances of success are much better, and our satisfaction with ourselves will be better
    as well. And there is nothing wrong with starting small. The most common resolution is the one to go on a diet. While it is an admirable one, it is also vague and can be an overwhelming one requiring a major lifestyle
    overhaul. If instead, you were to have a more specific goal such as having a fresh fruit or vegetable at each meal, you could acquire a sense of accomplishment much more easily; and once this resolution became a habit,
    another simple change to diet could follow without the inevitable feeling of being deprived.

    Any resolution you make should take into account the nature of your illness, your doctor's guidelines and wishes, and your personal needs. Say you miss taking long hikes in the woods and at the present time can only walk 15
    minutes on a treadmill- if it's all right with your doc, resolve to add one minute to each walk per week or a total of five minutes over the next six weeks. Doesn't sound like much at first, but actually, if you accomplish
    this goal, you are walking 25 percent longer than before! You are also closer to being able to take a short walk in the woods.

    One issue many with chronic illnesses face is no longer being able to work. Sometimes this leads to problems with self-worth, boredom and wondering what our purpose is. A resolution to do occasional volunteer work, to get
    involved in a support group, to become active in ones place of worship or even just to provide encouraging words to others on a message board can help fulfill that sense of purpose. The key to success here is to find an
    activity level you can commit to; even though you may have many interests, you may only have enough spoons to spend time with one group. Don't spread yourself too thin, or you may end up disappointing yourself again.

    If one of your resolutions is to save money, your chances of success are greatly improved if you can arrange to have the money automatically put into an account before you have a chance to spend it. And it doesn't have to be a
    large amount; setting aside just $10 a week leads to a savings of over $500 in a year! And before you know it, your resolution has become a habit.

    Try to resist the temptation to improve every area of your life at once. Even a healthy person cannot reasonably expect to successfully accomplish 25 resolutions. Depending on how ambitious your resolutions are, even 10 may be too many. If you come up with more than five, decide which five are the most important to you and focus on those first. If you manage to accomplish those before the year is out, then look at the remaining ones. Or better yet, save the remaining ones for the following year.

    And by all means think of resolutions as suggestions, not unbreakable rules. The world will not stop spinning if you don't reach your goal right away. Instead of branding yourself a failure and tossing your list out the window,
    just pick up where you left off and try again. It's your list, so by all means have as many "do overs" as necessary.

    There's nothing wrong with providing a little incentive to accomplish your goals. If you finally do clean out that closet or finish that scrapbook or eat broccoli once a week for eight weeks, reward yourself. Maybe buy yourself a music CD, rent a movie or just take a long hot bath. Just make sure the reward doesn't undo your accomplishment; if you're celebrating losing 10 pounds, maybe a hot fudge sundae is not the best prize for that goal.

    Make at least one of your resolutions something fun; this will keep you from getting discouraged. If you wish you could see a movie with your significant other or kids more often, resolve to do so once a month. Or resolve to read
    one of your favorite genre of books every other month. Or if you find yourself constantly too busy, make some time just for you. You deserve to enjoy life just as much as anyone else.

    Remember that the longest journey begins with a single step. So if you form goals that are realistic, helpful to your mental or physical health, and either fun or worthy of reward, these can become not just resolutions but
    revolutions in your quest for a better life.

    Let the revolutions begin!

    --Written by Karen Brauer @