In the newspaper business, the time between Christmas and New Year’s is the worst. There’s next to nothing to report. Schools are out on winter break, many boards and commissions take that time off, and all of the special events are done so people can concentrate on family festivities.
So, in anticipation of this scarcity of news, the View staff meets every year to brainstorm stories that we can share. Every year at this meeting, I say the same thing: Let’s NOT do anything on New Year’s resolutions. It’s trite.
And yet, here I am … writing about just that.
I read somewhere that Melinda Gates, in lieu of the traditional New Year’s resolution, selects a “word of the year,” such as “grace.” Throughout the year, she focuses on that word and uses it as a guide.
In that same vein, I would suggest the word, “habit.”
If you’re making a resolution, you’re most likely trying to overcome a bad habit, or establish a good habit. Bad habits are like the stray cat that shows up and just sort of hangs around until one day you realize, “Oh, my gosh, it lives here now.” Good habits are like the frightened puppy that you have to coax out of hiding. It takes patience and, I can’t stress this enough, persistence.
(My apologies to all the cat people out there. I didn’t mean to offend you. I actually love cats.)
If you’re trying to establish a good habit, keep this in the forefront of your mind: you’re worth it. This is of particular importance for those of you going to the gym because it takes time out of your day, and money out of your bank account. But you’re worth it.
Changing a behavior is tough, so start simply, start slowly. In other words, take a tip from the bad habits: let it creep up on you.
Start again … and again … and again, if you have to. Try it a different way. Find what works for you.
Don’t doubt yourself. That’s a bad habit. If a week, or a month, or three months have passed since you’ve been to the gym, or eaten a single vegetable or piece of fruit, or worked on that book you’ve been meaning to write, or whatever, don’t dwell on it. I repeat: do not dwell, or wallow, or doubt. Look forward, not back. Start again.
Many times, you’re not just creating a new habit, you’re pushing out an old, bad habit to make room for the new one. That’s a huge deal. It’s incredibly difficult.
But then one day something happens. It might be that you instinctively grab a bottle of water, instead of a bottle of pop. Or maybe you’ll realize, as you’re leaving the gym, that you didn’t have to psych yourself up or force yourself to go that day.
It’s not easy, but it’s not as tough at it might seem on Jan. 8, or Feb. 1, or whenever you hit that wall and have to decide whether to give up or start again.
Just remember that you’re worth it.
Lania Rocha is a staff writer for the View Newspaper. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org