Thursday, January 3, 2013

Resolved: It's not just a New Year's thing

Happy New Year!
I was not going to write about resolutions for 2013, but today as I took my regular morning walk (my first of the New Year), I noticed there were about four times as many folks out exercising as there had been in December. And it wasn't even an unseasonably warm day! So I got to ruminating about resolutions.

I think that by January 3rd this topic has been done to death in all media. My favorite story this year was Ira Flatrow on NPR's Science Friday. Before the dawn of 2013, Ira interviewed psychologist John Norcross who said the best way to make resolutions stick is to set realistic goals. This is not really news, but Dr. Norcross did cite figures: "In two of our longitudinal studies, 40 to 46 percent of New Year's resolvers will be successful at six months." Wow! That means that half of our resolutions will be fading by the time the cherry blossoms bloom here in D.C. Dr. Norcross talked about motivation vs. inspiration. I have always thought of inspiration as the seducer, making our resolutions seem so attractive that we reallyreally want to try them. Dr. Norcross would agree, I venture. He also reminds us that motivation is what keeps us going. It is also what those who fail balk at -- the hard work part. Motivation involves specific behaviors we build into the fabric of our days. And we shouldn't get discouraged by early "slips" of resolve: they may indicate that our major goal is good, but we need to "tweak" strategies for reaching it to make it something do-able.

Like many people my age, I don't place much stock in New Year's resolutions (been there, done that!) I try to be more pro-active (as opposed to reactive) in my life every day. Some days, however, I find that in my home and family life I am making choices rather hap-hazardly, according to circumstances that present themselves, rather than sticking to any real plan. Undaunted, I still resolve to make improvements -- but not on Big Days. My goals are usually small and specific. Some might call them modest. But often they are only steps in a plan to attain a larger goal. (see the story of how I produced my play, Becoming Calvin)

One of my past resolutions involved the what was then to me the strange world of blogging. I was not sure where it would lead me, but I dove in with my first post on November 7, 2011. And I keep at it as regularly as I can. Since my first blog I have posted 58 times, and had 4,549 page views (thank you). The Value of Solitude from January 24, 2012 remains the all-time favorite. I have enjoyed the discipline blogging has provided. And while I know not every post has been brilliant, I hope I have been able to share with you, my far-flung readers, some new information, or helped you reach a new insight.

Keep reading. . . there's more to come in 2013!

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