Before I get into discussing a topic, I want to make clear to everyone reading this I do not at any time hold myself up as any kind of expert. I am not a specialist of any kind. As a writer, I do make a point of undertaking as much research as I need to in order to satisfy myself I have covered all the aspects of whatever I was looking into.
So I will never claim to be the definitive authority for a particular subject or area of interest. What I will always do, if some point is unexplained or requires to be explained, I will do all the research into that point until I am sure I fully understand it and could demonstrate a thorough understanding by relating, in my own words, what I understand about the particular point. So, to confirm, I am just an ordinary citizen, a creative writer, with a healthy interest in the world around me. If I find an interesting topic I feel I can contribute something to, I’ll probably sit down at my PC one day and include it in my irregular blog for the website.
This time I thought it might inform and interest to look at the subject of New Year resolutions.
At this time of year, a lot of people announce their intention to do (or quit) something. Popular choices are quitting smoking, losing weight or abstaining from alcohol for a month for charity.
The start of a new year is often a good time to reflect on the past and look forward to the future. In doing so, the decision to adopt a New Year’s resolution is often predicated on observing a fact or feature we wish to change.
What causes dismay for many is the failure to keep or maintain the resolution through to the end.
Earlier, I mentioned undertaking a resolution in order to benefit a charity. I just want to digress here for a moment with a cautionary word. It is extremely altruistic and noble to attempt to lose weight or give up alcohol and have people ‘sponsor’ the attempt with a view to donating the proceeds to charity.
I think it’s a wonderful gesture, but please pause for a minute. In trying to achieve a ‘New Year’s Resolution’ to boost a probably very worthwhile charity’s funding could very easily de-rail your chances of achieving your target. This is because the spotlight tends to shift from the reason for having the target to the charity you intend to benefit, and your reason for trying slips away. I’ll try to demonstrate what I mean. Long ago, someone I knew wanted to pass the UK driving test. At the same time, a friend died in a tragic accident, and the friend decided to combine taking the test with raising funds to highlight a dangerous road system.
The friend tried very hard to get sponsors for taking the test, but very few donated. They wanted proof the friend had taken (and passed) the driving test before they would put their hands in their pockets. The friend became disheartened because so few would back the friend’s ability to take and pass the driving test. In the end, the friend failed the driving test and when passing on the meager donations, matched them just so there was a decent amount of money being donated.
Perhaps you will say losing weight for charity is different. I say my point remains: if you try to do two things at the same time, often you find your attention, commitment and physical capabilities force you to compromise at some point, and that is when you are in danger of achieving neither of your objectives.
Sometimes it’s for reasons beyond our control, but sometimes it’s more because we slip back into our old habits and routines, and there’s the rub. It’s a matter of habit. Think about it – we’re used to getting up, getting washed and cleaning our teeth. Most of us follow this routine without another thought. It’s an ingrained habit we don’t need reminding of; we just repeat it every day.
There is the answer: if you really want to make a change, you need to make it second nature, a repetitive habit you don’t need to think to do. It’s a simple rule, not so simple to follow and that’s why people relapse.
Take journaling; the action of completing an entry in a diary every day is (for me) a therapeutic release I undertake daily and I have done it for years. But it wasn’t something I’d done since I learned to write. I made it a daily habit. I fitted it into my daily routine until it was second nature, then I don’t need to think – ‘have I completed my diary today?’ I know I have because it’s my routine habit.
And there you have it; a small nugget of wisdom. It’s not difficult, but it takes time and patience to learn to incorporate whatever it is you want to do in your daily routine and life until it’s part of your daily life.
Until next time, take care; look after yourselves and each other with kindness and patience.
Saturday, 7th January 2023