This column originally appears in St. Cloud Times, Monday, January 13, 2014. This is the pre-edited version of the article.
As we celebrate the beginning of a new calendar year, quite often we are prompted to make new resolutions and plans to try something new, or to do something differently. Many of us scribble new goals, or rewrite old ambitions – cheering to a brand new year and another chance to “get it right.”
But hey, it’s only the second week of the new chapter, and I have already found myself slacking on my new diet plans and exercise routine. I am pretty sure I am not alone; my friends have tried to avoid the topic when I asked them how they are keeping up with their new plans.
So, it came to my realization that maybe we should try to do better at what we are already doing rather than forcing ourselves to be someone new or different.
While re-evaluating my New Year’s resolutions, it dawned on me that I have always wanted to “be different” every year. I have made resolutions to be an outdoor person, to volunteer at an animal shelter, and to bring world peace. Yet, none of these has happened. Being different has been a cliché that works pretty well in sales pitches, on marketing banners, and in motivational talks. But when it comes to its practicality, “being different” a very difficult shoe to wear.
Ask yourself this: When was the last time you did something completely out of your element? I can’t recall any new venture I have embarked on for the past couple of years. A lot of my endeavors were extensions of my routine. I read more, wrote more, and reached out to more people through various social means; I have been doing these for as long as I can remember.
Hence, to go beyond the pale – to make resolution – is less about being different and more about setting new standards based on current goals – to be more and better than what one already is.
Sleep more. Read more. Run more. Spend more time with family and friends. Do more than what you did last year.
By focusing your energy on aspirations that are grounded in your present lifestyle, you are setting yourself up for success – or at least, a better chance for accomplishing these goals by next New Year’s Eve.
Sure, you would still like to try something different this year, maybe pick up a new hobby of some sort. The key to turning this resolution into a reality is integrating it into your lifestyle, making it an extension of your routine. For instance, if you would like to learn a new language this year – say, French – for personal enrichment, make it a point to bring it into your workplace to increase your productivity or to learn it with your children so you can spend more time with them. That way, your new resolution becomes an amplification of the quality of your life.
With the New Year spirit still fresh on our horizon, we should pause to look back at our grandiose list of all the things we plan to do differently in 2014, and recreate these items in the language of improvement instead of change.
My article appears every second Monday of the month in St. Cloud Times editorial.
Image by Adventure Time: Be More