The chaos of change, by Leslie Bek

All members of the health education and prevention field support the idea of any event that causes an individual to make healthy changes in their lifestyle.

That makes the hoopla associated with New Year’s Resolutions in our culture what we consider to be a very teachable moment. Statistics indicate that the majority of those resolutions include some form of personal health change.
The topic of New Year’s resolutions and the opportunity they represent is a notion that has been taken up by our federal government.
Touted as the official United States gateway to all government information, www.FirstGov.gov is the catalyst for growing electronic government. According to this site, “Whatever you want or need from the government is here.”
I’m not sure whether that statement is reassuring, but it is interesting to learn that the U.S. government has collected those resolutions that are most popular and even goes as far as providing tips for taking action.
So, on the official word of the U.S. government for the New Year of 2006, here are the most popular New Year’s resolutions: lose weight, pay off debt, get fit, eat right, get a better education, drink less alcohol, quit smoking, reduce stress overall, reduce stress at work, take a trip and volunteer to help others.
While the bells and whistles of New Year’s Day get all of the attention, the whole point of making the commitment to change is making the commitment to change. Any day you chose on your own personal calendar is a good day to start.
Remember, it was Mark Twain who said, “Quitting smoking is easy, I’ve done it a hundred times.” He probably didn’t try only on January 1.
It is not too late. One month into 2006, it would be appropriate to check on progress made with thirty days of reflection. How are we doing? Did we set reasonable and obtainable goals for ourselves or is some tweaking in order?
Whatever the answer, positive or negative, as the months go by, each of us probably will need help sustaining whatever change it is that we have sought for ourselves.
When I am advising my Kindergarten-aged son on problem solving; I often tell him to rely on logic to work his way to his solution. And so, as with supporting and sustaining personal goals associated with New Year’s resolutions, where can one go to get some logical assistance?
I found a resource at www.MyGoals.com. It is the Web’s leading destination (in their opinion) devoted to helping you identify and accomplish anything you set out to do. Whether your goals are personal or professional, short-term or long-term, lofty or simple, they can help.
According to the site, there is a right way and a wrong way to make a New Year’s resolution. And to that statement I add, there is a right way to repair a newly made resolution. Here are a few tips pulled from experts to help you to see that your resolution actually makes a difference:
• Create a plan—Setting a goal without formulating a plan is merely wishful thinking. In order for your resolution to have resolve, (as the word “resolution” implies), it must translate into clear steps that can be put into action. A good plan will tell you what to do next and what are the steps required to complete the goal.
• Create your plan immediately—If you’re like most people, you’ll have a limited window of opportunity during the first few days of declaring the change to harness your motivation. After that, most people forget their resolutions completely. It is imperative that you begin creating your plan immediately.
• Write down your resolution and plan—Commit your plan to writing somewhere, such as a in notebook or journal.
• Think year-round, not just New Year’s—Nothing big gets accomplished in one day. Resolutions are set in one day, but accomplished with a hundred tiny steps that happen throughout the year. New Year’s resolutions should be nothing more than a starting point. You must develop a ritual or habit for revisiting your plan.
• Remain flexible—Expect that your plan can and will change. Life has a funny way of throwing unexpected things at us, and flexibility is required to complete anything but the simplest goal. Sometimes the goal itself will change. Most of all, recognize partial successes at every step along the way. Just as a resolution isn’t accomplished the day it’s stated, neither is it accomplished the day you reach your goal. Rather, it’s accomplished in many small increments along the way. Acknowledge these incremental successes as they come.
In his book, You Gotta Get in the Game, author Billy Cox offers that, in the game of life, there are no time outs, no overtimes. You only get one chance to play the game. The question you gotta ask yourself is, “At what level do I want to play – do I want to wait on the sidelines of life or do I want to win?”
Cox uses the powerful phrase “you gotta” for emphasizing important techniques and steps for success. “You gotta” means you absolutely must. According to Cox, you gotta turn your shoulds, coulds, woulds, mights and maybes into absolute musts if you want to achieve lasting success. He provides the following formula for thinking like a winner:
“If you change your thoughts, you will change your beliefs. If you change your beliefs, you will change your expectations. If you change your expectations, you will change your attitudes. If you change your attitudes, you will change your behavior. If you change your behavior, you will change your performance. If you change your performance, you will change your life.”

Inspiration to change
Helen Keller said, “To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.”
Any change in our lives represents a period of chaos, a time of being out-of-sorts with what was routine. Setting personal goals in the form of resolutions automatically sets the wheels of change in motion.
In order to be successful, I believe we must think beyond logical and draw upon what inspires us.
At the core of a resolution is the need for resolve. It seems to me that a close kin to that resolve is resilience. Personal resolve and resilience need to be called upon. They will give us the ability to remain focused and forward-thinking amid the environment of change we have caused in our lives.
They will give us the ability to thrive in the chaos that any change inevitably will create in what once was a personal comfort zone. The daily routine is no longer the routine that we had known.
I have learned that we need to resolve to succeed, that the greatest discovery one can make is that nothing is impossible. No one can push us like we can push ourselves.
The resolve has to come from within. It can be nudged or inspired from the outside but it is our inner self that gives us the push to take the action.
There was an exchange my Mom and I used to share after one of us had just made a point in our conversation or declaration of some sort. We simply ended by saying, “So there.” Enough had been said.
It seems to me appropriate now to end by reminding you to draw upon your personal resilience, your internal resolve and the strength of your faith, your friends and anything you identify as support in your life. In doing so, I believe you can reach your personal goals and sustain those resolutions.
So there.
—Leslie Bek

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