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Go Ahead: Break Those Resolutions!

written by Head Health Nutter January 9, 2008

Interestingly, only a few of my family, friends, co-workers and acquaintances made any New Year’s Resolutions this year. When I asked those who didn’t, “Why not?”, they almost all replied with, “Most people break them within the first week, so why bother?”

If you want to change something in your life, this post is all about why you should bother.

Change is meant to be gradual

I’m not sure what the weather’s been like in other parts of the world but it’s been beautiful here in Toronto, Canada. In fact, it’s too gorgeous!

Yesterday was 14ºC (57ºF) when only 5 days ago we were experiencing -17°C (1.4 ºF and with the wind-chill it felt like -30ºC or -22 ºF !). Everyone I’ve spoken with has been feeling “off”. Some people reported trouble sleeping, others complained of headaches, some mentioned being moody, and others couldn’t pin point the disturbance.

The human body is an amazing piece of biological machinery and can adapt itself to almost any environment. But it seems as if adaptation is easier to cope with when it’s experienced in incremental changes.

Most everyone tackles their resolutions with gusto – I love the enthusiasm – but these huge flips in behaviour are just too much for our systems. We experience negative effects (whether it be soreness after workouts or irritability from stopping ourselves from smoking) and after a few days or even months, these negative associations build up until we reach our breaking point. Then we give up.

Any easy, unthinking behaviour becomes natural to us through habit

As living beings, we are programmed to move towards food, activities, substances, objects, people, etc. that produce positive feelings within us. We keep doing the things that make us feel good and they become habit.

Unfortunately, some of these positive things become harmful to us when overused. It’s because we create an imbalance in our biological system. As we grow older, this imbalance (caused by our over-indulgences) accumulate over the years to the point where they manifest into health issues.

What used to work for us when we were younger fails to work optimally for us when we are older. We’ve learned that our carefree behaviour produces positive feelings and so we continue to habitually perform them. Once these habits are in place, the behaviour becomes unconscious and difficult to change, even though we’ve noticed they’ve become harmful. The initial change is hard because of our beliefs.

Dr. David Hawkins, in Power vs. Force , explains better here:

“Such radical change, however, can be disorienting; the courage to endure the temporary discomfort of growth is required, and the mind tends to resist change as a matter of pride. Recovery from any disease process is dependent on willingness to explore new ways of looking at one’s self and life, which includes the capacity to endure inner fears when belief systems are shaken.”

Any SMALL change has HUGE effects

Just as it took our youthful behaviour years to show any visible effects, our adult (self-controlled) behaviour also takes time to reveal itself. Dr. Hawkins uses an excellent metaphor about behaviour is his book: if a ship bearing any direction veers off course by only a few degrees, over time and distance, it will find itself miles away from its original destination .

This is great news! This means that even if we only change one unhealthy behaviour to one that is healthy, it will have a HUGE, positive effect on us in later years.

So go ahead, make those resolutions and break ‘em…and then keep on trying. Determination and persistence is key. Don’t be afraid to fail because through failure we learn better ways of accomplishing our goals.

It’s all about taking it easy, being good to ourselves, and moving forward bit by bit. And keep in mind: every little change for the better eventually makes big differences in our lives.

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Brian Anderson January 11, 2008 at 10:55 pm

I’m glad i found your site. I didn’t make any New Year’s resolutions on January 1 as I was working on a client project – no boo-hoo here; I thought it was more important. However, I was using outdated paradigms which were to rear their ugly heads 3 days hence. Yes, the presentation went well, yes, the content was good but I stayed up all night to finish it. I wasn’t at my best and it showed. It’s hard to conceal a late-night from your students. They’ve been there too at some point.

The project should have been done two days before. One outmoded idea in play was that I had to come up with something sensational when it was clearly stated that only something basic was required. I know where this came from and now finally realized that it no longer fit and that I would never again have to super-dig because my innate intelligence and my super-duper memory, akin to a relational database that never forgot anything, (at age 13, I could tell 100 jokes in a row because I’d organize them into 10 categories) + my experience combined to enable me to add valuable insight to my teaching/training classes.

Then there were my kamikaze work habits, which while being useful in 19th century coal mines or the galleys of Roman-era ships, did not suit the high speed world of the early 21st century. This and many other epiphanies came for a visit this past Tuesday and Wednesday.

What did I do? Nothing at first, because the sudden awareness basted me in a supreme ah-ha moment; I didn’t even try to stand up.

Then, I just carried it around for a while. But I resolved to make changes – a few at a time. First, I resolved to make sure the dishes were done everyday to keep the chaos and distractions to a minimum: done. Then, over the last three days, I’ve gone to bed progressively earlier and woken up earlier: done. Then, I decided, what the heck, let’s go back to eating properly and at the right times: done. All the while, I’ve thought about how to prevent what happened last week from ever happening again.

I want a happier, more balanced life and am determined, almost obsessed, (is that what is called ‘passion’ these days?) about making it happen. What’s more, in this increasingly collaborative world, each of us is, or will be, depending on someone else to get a project done. Ensuring that we’re in top form means the client will be happy and we’ll be healthy enough to drink the champagne they break out when it goes over big-time.

TheCodeMaster January 13, 2008 at 8:49 pm

I loved your article because it looks you are talking to ME, LOLOL. When I came to Canada I promised myself that I would do some exercises to avoid become fat and lazy, but I always used to say that I would start “next Monday”, but the problem was, that “next Monday” never came, now after a year I’m still not going. But this year will be different; I’ll start “next Month”. Do you believe me, right?

Brian Anderson January 14, 2008 at 4:42 pm

Well Mr. CodeMaster (I know you’re a ‘He’ because I followed your URL), it’s all process and slipping and tripping, and picking yourself up and dusting yourself off and then trudging onwards – again.

How do I know this? Because yesterday, I got up pretty early – on a Sunday(!) to get moving on something I couldn’t get to the previous day (death in extended family), put in a full day of productive work and then thought ….”hey, if Julie (my collaborator got this first thing in the morning, she could get more done..” Flawed thinking because she’s working on several projects currently and there was no guarantee she’d even look at what I’d done in the morning!

So, there I was last night up again late/early. However, I am happy to say that your message back to me has given me another a-ha moment ….plus the one I had this morning when I chastised myself (“Do you ever learn?).

Changing our habits and old thinking patterns is a constant battle, my friend. I know this from experience. I used to be the biggest slob you have never met! Think of a car’s back seat filled 6 inches (or more) above the seat with discarded food in old lunch bags, magazines, week old newspapers, seasonal clothing, car maintenance goods, work papers, basically everything – it was like my own personal salad – and, all the while, I was a top sales rep at a tech company. Who knew!

Now that was a long time ago (not last week); actually more than 10 years ago, but just lately, I realized I had to keep my apt. as clean as possible because I couldn’t think straight. So, if I can turn the corner on this cleanliness thing, I can sure extend it to life organization.

Mind you, I’ve got some great photos of my messy ways that a friend insisted we take for posterity / life time capsule purposes. It’ll make for a great news real: “The Brian that was!” I’ll ship some to your blog or maybe Miss Livelighter.

Until we speak again sir…

Steph January 14, 2008 at 9:25 pm

Luciano – I DO believe that you will get back to the gym…when you’re good and ready.

In the meantime, maybe you’ll find other physical activity (maybe suggested in this blog?)that you really enjoy doing and look forward to on a daily basis?

Brian – Sounds like you and I agree on how much easier life gets when you’re healthy and balanced.

You’re so right in your advice to Luciano: change is hard at first but it’s all about stubborn persistence.

Let’s all keep truckin’ towards balance! After all, health is worth the effort. 🙂

TheCodeMaster January 30, 2008 at 9:24 pm

Mr. Brian, First off thanks for your words, I’ll do my best to make this year, be the year that i got things DONE!!!


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