Sunday, January 2, 2011

Stopping May Be Better Than Starting

Every article I've ready lately gives one reason after another why you should not make a new year's resolution. By a wide margin, the experts say, resolutions don't work, as many people who have that first cigarette after they resolve to quit smoking, or skipped several days at the gym think that because they've slipped up they have "broken" their resolution they might as well just give up. I am a believer in resolutions; but I think its all it how you define them.

There are a couple different times of the year I find myself in self-reflection. New Year's Day is certainly one of them. But also my birthday and the start of a new school year are 2 other times. Birthdays, of course, get you thinking about the passage of time and various age-related lifestyle and health issues. And September for me is a time of inner reflection because it takes me back to my youth and makes me think of the feeling I use to have with clean paper, notebooks and new books> I felt I had a "clean slate" to start a new year of learning inside and outside the classroom. I always set goals at the beginning of the school year, and I still find myself doing that every fall.

In fact, I like to think more in terms of goal setting than resolutions, but whatever you call them, the idea is the same. What may be intimidating about resolutions or goals is that there seems to be so much to "do" and so much to "start" that it seems too overwhelming. So this year, I thought perhaps a more effective way to affect improvements in my life might be to put things on a "stop" list. My boss, Nick Anthony brought this technique to my attention years ago in our strategic meetings. The idea is that "stopping" an ineffective, non-productive practice or behavior will help to naturally replace them with another, hopefully more productive one.

For example, physically, I would like to continue to work on living a healthy lifestyle. Professionally, I'd like to be a better person to work with, and to work for. And personally, if I'm happier and more self-fulfilled from the inside out I'll be productive in as a mom, a friend, partner and person overall to be of some service to others.

To attempt to accomplish these goals, I'm going to put a few things on my "stop" list.

I resolve to STOP:

-Eating out so much, which will make me cook more, eat better and save money

-Worrying. This will be tough, but I really do know that 90 percent of what we worry about never happens, and you can't get that time you spent worry back. There is always some element of a situation we can control, so focus on that.

-Complaining. I believe in the universal law of attraction, and when we focus on the negative, negative stuff keeps happening because that's where the energy is going. Like attracts like, so even if something is driving you crazy, switching gears to focus on something about the situation or person that you can gain, or learn from the experience, even if it's a lesson in patience will help.

-Being around negative people. They suck the life out of you. Enough said.

-Making excuses. I can always think of reasons for not doing something I want to do. If I find myself procastinating, I will work to get up and "just do" something, even something little, one day at a time. Walk the dog, take a last minute weekend trip, read a book, try something I've never tried before. Learn a new skill.

So instead of thinking about all the things we resolve to do start doing this new year, maybe we can start thinking of things we will resolve to stop doing.

What can you put on your "stop list"?