Although I do understand the purpose, I’ve never been a fan of New Year’s resolutions. It’s not that I don’t think we should improve ourselves and the world around us. It’s quite the opposite actually. I firmly believe in creating goals. I keep a list of daily, weekly, monthly, one year, three year, five year and 10 year goals that I review at least once a week.
These goals, though, are not arbitrary. Each one ties to a larger vision that I have for me, my family, my career, etc. Most importantly, none were created as a resolution under the pressure of some random start date.
I’m the type of person who recognizes opportunities for change and improvement, puts together a plan and starts to move forward at the first possible chance. I know this is easy to say, and is something that can be difficult for many people. It’s something that was – and still is – hard for me.
And this is where a well-worn cliché is applicable, every journey begins with a single step. After all, it’s true when they say that this step is the most difficult.
Because oftentimes the first step is realizing that the you’re the primary obstacle standing in the way of whatever your goal is.
The most tangible example I can give from my own experiences, and one that will resonate with a few of the more popular New Year’s resolutions, is the story of my weight loss.
When I tell this story to people who didn’t know me prior to 2004 they find it hard to believe, but in 2004 I weighed approximately 250 pounds. Then, while shoveling out from a central Pennsylvania snowstorm, I felt a sharp pain in my back, my right leg went numb and I went down.
I eventually went to see a neurologist, Dr. Hani Tuffaha, who confirmed that I herniated a disk in my back. An injury that traced back to my high school football days.
Dr. Tuffaha gave me a few options and I opted for surgery as it seemed like the option that gave me the best chance for a full recovery. However, there was a caveat to any option I selection. Dr. Tuffaha insisted that the key to a full recovery was for me to lose weight.
My initial reaction was to ignore his suggestion. I was in my mid-20’s and I felt healthy – other than my back.
Plus, none of this was my fault.
First, no one told me I was overweight, how could I know? Even if I was overweight, it was because no one told me how to eat right.
And my back? Technically this was caused by something that happened years prior.
Clearly I could blame my current situation on my friends, parents and former coaches. I was in the clear of any responsibility or personal accountability for my current situation.
Except I wasn’t.
As I recovered from surgery in May of 2004 I got to thinking about things. I was barely able to hold my oldest son, Elijah, who was born just a few months prior.
I was in my mid-20’s and wasn’t healthy enough to hold something that weighed less than 15 pounds. What did this mean for my future?
I decided that maybe – maybe – Dr. Tuffaha was right. Maybe a man with more years’ experience in healthcare than I had in living had seen a few things and knew what he was talking about.
I started doing research on how to lose weight and came to the conclusion that all of this was my fault and that I was the only one who could do anything to change it. Instead of just creating a weight-loss goal, I decided that my goal would be to change my lifestyle.
The change began slowly, with one simple equation:
100 calories a day = 10 pounds a year
I could use half as much mayonnaise and drink one less can of pop a day and come up with more than that. Park in the back of every parking lot and use the stairs instead of an elevator, and I was at 250 calories a day in no time.
I don’t think I told anyone I was making the changes, I just decided to make a resolution and move forward.
As I learned more about not just losing weight, I began working on how to develop and maintain a healthy lifestyle. I realized that being healthy means more than eating less and exercising more. It means examining and reexamining everything I do and creating goals to improve in areas I need regardless of the time of year.
I ended up losing over 100 pounds and, more importantly, kept it off.
As we move into a new year and you consider whether to make a resolution or not, keep in mind that real change doesn’t happen because of a date change. It happens when you decide to look within and take responsibility for what you can control.
Happy New Year and good luck!