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New Year resolutions: how to make them work


Cindy gave considerable thought to what she wanted to change about herself, a work in progress that she determined would require self-love, self-compassion, realistic goals and accountability. Well, there were likely to be other considerations, too, but she had to start somewhere.

            She weighed the things she’d like to change about herself and decided to work on one thing at a time. She sat down with pen and paper and sketched out her plan:

  • Patience with others … and herself.
  • Caring better for her Self so she could better care about others.
  • Look at the funny side of things instead of the serious side of everything.
  • Worry less and be concerned instead. There is a difference.
  • Find her authentic self and be that person.

            She would need self-control, to be able to control her emotions and desires, especially in difficult situations. It wasn’t always easy to deal with angry, sometimes nasty people. And when the stress of being crunched between obligations and responsibilities came up, she exploded and later regretted it. She would be kind to herself, take things as they came up (those things she couldn’t control), take a deep breath and count to 10 before she reacted. She would work on one change at a time, understanding that she could change only herself. As she reached one goal she would move on to the next one. Well, that was part of her game plan, anyway.

            Somewhere along the line she had lost her sense of humor. She missed laughing and joking around with friends and family. Laughter is the best medicine. And when she was in a good mood she didn’t reach for comfort food. She got busy with things that needed to be done and the things she enjoyed doing. Yes. Sense of humor was definitely something she could work on. And not getting entangled in political “discussions” at Facebook. Those debates led to depression and exhaustion and nobody won.

            She might not be able to completely cut out Facebook, but she could set some limits. She might not be able to walk away from the toxic people in her life but she could limit how much time she spent with them. She might not be able to skip the ice cream but she could cut back on how often she ate ice cream. Setting limits and keeping them were small acts of self-control that made her a better, stronger person.

            It was pointless to worry. What did she have to show for it when she was past it? But when she was concerned she did what she could, then let it go, moving on to the next thing that demanded her attention.

            There would be times when she would become discouraged. She already was aware of that and was at work making a list of her accomplishments, the issues she had dealt with, the challenges she had met, the obstacles she had overcome, the places she had traveled and people she had helped in some way, her civic contributions and church efforts. She counted the friends who added to her life in abundance and the blessings she had received from people who had helped her. She had a lot to be thankful for and to appreciate.

            She posted some visuals around her space: “Love is patient, love is kind … love never fails.” “Laugh and the world laughs with you.” “Don’t worry. Be happy.” “To thine own self be true.”

            Stress can drag a body down, leading to discouragement, frustration. For some it leads to comfort food. To others it leads to smoking, drinking, self-medicating. But that is the time to turn and leave that place that threatens to compromise the plan you have set for yourself for the new year. It’s a lot of work, but sometimes the things most valuable to us are the things we work had to get. Pace yourself. You can do this.

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