Realistic resolutions

Published 12:47 pm Friday, January 6, 2012

Resolutions have become a tradition to many of us, a way to turn over the proverbial new leaf at the beginning of a new year by examining ways to improve our lives with a single, declarative statement such as “I am going to lose weight,” or “I am going to stop smoking,” or “I am going to exercise more.”
Resolutions are a bold way to force us into making significant life changes, but, once declared, may seem impossible to fulfill. It is one thing to say it, and another to do it.
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” so says the Chinese philosopher Confucius over 2,500 years ago. As basic and obvious as that famous quote is, it seems never more applicable than now … at the beginning of a new year when many of us ponder how to achieve our resolutions.
A realistic resolution is one that is defined more by the journey than the destination. The realistic resolution begins with that single step and does not set us up for failure if not immediately attained. Realistic resolutions give us a starting point and, ultimately, a direction.
One of the most common resolutions every year involves weight loss. If you want to lose weight and declare it either privately or to a small, trusted circle of friends or even to your Facebook friends, think of that resolution as part of a process. The first step is wanting it. The next step is examining ways to change your lifestyle to make the resolution more attainable. These initial steps are often the most difficult because it means taking a long, hard look at the state of one’s lifestyle. What are you willing to change or give up to take these steps on this journey to a healthy weight?
Change involves several stages. In the first stage, there is little recognition of the need for change other than a vague sense that there is a need to lose weight, for example. The second stage is contemplation — gathering information and identification of resources available to assist with developing a plan. In our weight loss example, a physical exam would be indicated, as well as an exploration of strategies for diet and lifestyle change.
Next is the action stage: implementing the plan including diet and lifestyle changes and utilizing supportive resources. The maintenance phase of change involves recognition of results refining the plan as needed.
This article was submitted by Laura Ellington, LCSW, LISW-CP, at Polk Wellness Center. For more information about Polk Wellness Center, visit www.polkwellness.org or call 828-894-2222.