New Year’s Resolutions Revisited

Dietitians are not fond of January. Yes, we get a lot of business this time of the year, but it’s not a pretty picture. For so many of our clients “the most wonderful time of the year” is followed by a period of misery and regret. Again, the holiday celebrations have left their mark – mostly around the waistline – and it can be hard to muster enough resolve to take up the battle of the bulge once more. Frankly, we spend a great deal of time and effort to talk people out of giving up for good.

We all know that failure is a part of life and, to a certain extent, we are willing to accept that. Of course, we prefer to think of ourselves as successes. It’s important for us to know that we are making progress in one way or another. Especially my generation has been brought up to believe that there are always bigger and better things in store for us and that our best days are still ahead.

I am no exception. Throughout my life, I never questioned the importance of achievement. I’ve always considered myself as a disciplined, goal-oriented person, someone who was able to roll up her sleeves and do whatever it takes to get the job done. As a wife, a mother, a homemaker, a professional and an entrepreneur, I tried my best to do what was expected of me – by others, but more so by myself. I was even known for organizing my aspirations by drawing up flow charts, listing short-, middle- and long-term goals as well as strategies to implement their realization. Life can be planned! Or so I thought.

Today, I like to think that I’ve become a little wiser in that regard. I still believe that having goals is healthy and even necessary if we are to function in this world. But I don’t pursue my aspirations in ways I used to – and not for the same reasons. Rather than being focused on the road ahead and living in the future, I try to stay present in the moment. I learned – sometimes the hard way – it’s the only thing I can have some control over, the only thing that I can truly call my own.

It may be true that we cannot exist without hope for the future. We need to believe in something that reaches beyond the here and now. We hope that some day we will be happy, win the lottery, find the right partner, and have all our dreams come true. Perhaps there’s a good reason why so many people worship celebrities. At least they let us experience vicariously the life we would want for ourselves. I’m glad that my own chances to become the next Britney Spears began to dim back when Elvis was hot. So, thankfully, I haven’t been obsessing over my shortcomings in that department for quite some time. But I’m not without dreams – not yet. I know what I want. But I also know what I have. It’s the latter that I build my hopes and desires on. My past experiences – failures as well as successes – serve me well as the foundation for things to come. Or, as one of my clients once put it in much more compelling terms: “Since I can’t undo my past, I might as well make use of it for the future.”

It gives me comfort to know that the desires, wishes and dreams I still have left in me are the product of everything that came before. I believe that Rose Kennedy had it right when she said: It doesn’t matter what happens to you. It only matters what you do with it. Perhaps these are silly notions that come with age. If they sound ridiculous – I still prefer good thoughts to bitterness.

So, here is my proposal for your New Year’s resolution: First: Don’t look back, at least not with regret. Don’t despair over all that went wrong, didn’t work out, turned out to be disappointing, etc. If you tried and failed – good for you. You learned something. Second: Don’t lose sight of the big picture. It’s not about the little things, it’s about what they add up to in the long run. Remember: Nothing’s forbidden, but everything counts. Third: Take action. Once you know what you need to do – do it! Never mind from where you start. Otherwise be happy! Live in the moment! Good luck and have a happy New Year.

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