ASK THE GOAT: Another year, another chance
Goat: “Last year I promised I would cut out chocolate, run a 5K a day, and would be nicer to my fellow man. Instead, I have gained 22 pounds [chocolate definitely contributing], ran twice and pretty much take my own self-loathing out on anyone near enough to hear. Is there a trick or ‘magic bean’ that can help the resolution stick? Am I destined to fail again this year?” Signed “Unresolved”
Dear Unresolved: I feel your pain. I went year after year promising to make grandiose and formative changes to my life. I failed time and again, so I am vested in this particular issue. The answer is very simple. No.
There is no magic bean, quick fix or easy way to evoke life changes. Even searching for a shortcut pretty much seals your doom. You have to buck up, buckle down and make your resolutions stick.
Rule One: Write down your goals and tell everyone you know. Post them at home, at work and in your car. You are the one accountable but the peer pressure often keeps you honest. No one wants to fail but failing publically really adds an incentive for lasting success. It’s hard to sit in an office break room and munch on a Snickers bar when your face is posted on the office fridge with the phase “Has given up chocolate for 2013.”
Rule Two: Enlist family support. You cannot quit eating late-night junk food when your family rolls through the door at 10 p.m. with a bag of chips and some McDonald’s fries. Let them know what pitfalls they may have prevented in past years. We’ve covered the importance of social support before. No vegetarian can be successful in a house of bacon, cold cuts and Slim Jims. Nobody cutting down on television viewing can achieve success in a house with eight sets blaring 24/7. And finally, if your family opts to join you in a resolution, let them know that they cannot bow out and leave you on your own. If “we” are going to run five days a week, then “we” are going to stick with it. If the unit breaks down, the resolution will probably shatter as well.
Rule Three: Change only one thing at a time. Don’t give up a favorite food, start a new exercise routine and try to like all humans at the same time. Start slow and tick things off as you go. Start with the running regimen. After six months of successful completion, you can try to add in a chocolate-cessation program in conjunction with the running. However, if doing both causes a glitch in the running, abandon the second resolution and stay with the first. Remember, too much too soon can destroy all forward progress.
I wish you well in your resolutions this year. Start small, be realistic and stay with the plan. Enlist aid and hold yourself accountable. Anyone can evoke a life change. Just don’t push too hard, too soon. Happy New Year’s, Sanford.