Preparing for the New Year

The New Year is a time of anticipation, of new beginnings, a chance to re-write our scripts, to cast off old ways and start fresh.

My favorite New Year’s rituals are buying gorgeous wall calendars, making the house clean, and throwing out things I no longer need. Making resolutions and an implementation plan gives me hope and excitement. I like to use the possibility of the season to move forward on the priorities for my life.

So let’s look at some of the opportunities you can take advantage of this time of year:

  1. Resolutions – despite cynics, resolutions do work if you go about them in the right way. They can’t be just a list you write and then tuck away somewhere, never to be seen again. They have to be the basis for an Action Plan, that is, a series of specific, effective, measurable, painless steps that you can review regularly and implement on a daily basis. Here’s how to make resolutions work for you:
    1. Your motivation must be clear and kept in mind all the time. Reminder signs, notes, anything that will help remember why you want to make this change is a good thing. Your resolution has to be more important (or at least, as important) than the million other things you have to do.
    2. Writing (in detail) about your resolutions as though you had already accomplished them, and how your life is different as a result (such as, ‘since I lost 20 lbs., my whole body feels so much better – I can walk farther and more comfortably, I can climb stairs without panting, my knees and back don’t hurt all the time, and my doctor says the improvement on my cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure will help me live better longer, and maybe live longer.’) will help you achieve them.
    3. Your action plan needs to be the most painless, realistic, easiest possible – if it’s torture, you won’t do it. Your plan should not demand big, sudden changes, but small, easy ones that you can incorporate into what you are already doing. For example, if one of your resolutions is to get more exercise, joining a gym and going every day is too much if it has not been part of your life before; instead, start by increasing your walking and taking the stairs instead of the elevator whenever you can.
    4. Don’t wait. New Year’s is magic, and for some people, essential for making transitions. But if you can get past the calendar issue, as soon as you realize that you want or need to make a change, marshalling your resources in that direction will give you a running start on the new year; the credibility that you build this way will support sticking with your plan throughout the coming year. For example, if your resolution is to exercise more, research gyms, find the one you like best, and take advantage of their free trial periods. (You may find that the one you prefer is not the one you would have expected.) If you have already begun going to the gym when New Years arrives, you will already be on the road to a healthier life.

Health resolutions in particular are best implemented ASAP – why wait on something as important as your health? You only get one body. A good place to begin with health resolutions is to look at your self-care practices and see what needs to change to prevent illness – eating better? more exercise? getting a check-up? How can you make these things easy?

  1. Winterizing – if you haven’t already made preparation for cold weather, now is the time. Weatherstripping will not only keep you more comfortable, but will  reduce your heating bills, and help save the planet. What a deal!
  1. Clearing out and organizing (you knew I’d get to this) – New Year’s is a natural time to get rid of things that you have not used in the previous year. The more you clear, the more breathing room you will have – and the easier the holiday clean-up process will be. A way to make this easy is to evaluate items as you get out cold weather things and put away summer items. Whatever didn’t get used during the past season probably isn’t needed. While gearing up to do taxes is a good time to look through old records and see what can be dumped, archived, or organized.

©2010 Gloria Valoris

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