I have never been one to participate in New Year's Resolutions...I find the idea to be similar to Confession, which doesn't PREVENT one from future *sins*...it just absolves the past, so to speak. But I do like the idea of shifts in focus. Self-imposed or not. So, my idea of beginning a fast on New Year's Eve is not so much about "resolve" as it is a "shift". And, since I was too ill on Hallows (you remember?...that pagan New Year called Halloween?!?) to participate in my usual fast during that time of year, I decided now was as good a time as any...to SHIFT FOCUS.
As many party-goers (aka, DRUNKS) will be out ringing in the New Year tonight, I will be home contemplating...shifting my focus. Remembering the year(s) past, staying in the "now", and looking toward the light of 2008. 2007 was one of my BETTER years...I think I will be sad to see it go. But, oddly, I am also looking toward the coming year...something I have not often felt over the past 5 years of living with MS.
Some people become very obsessed about the "G" word...goals...this time of year. What's your GOAL for 2008? What do you plan to accomplish in 2008? What do you expect to have happen in 2008? Blahty, blahty, blah. People make resolutions/goals for the New Year, only to find themselves sorely disappointed. I have been guilty of this in my younger years...making outlandish, magical goals without doing the "base" work required to obtain them. As if simply SAYING these goals out loud will somehow change my behaviors that have CAUSED me to need to set a goal in the first place. No introspection has gone into the plan, only the magical plan itself is made.
I have come to recognize "goal" achievement (keeping resolutions...whatever you want to call them) requires "goal" planning. And not some simple resolution I have made up on or around New Year's that might be a "good" idea, but that I lack the substance to achieve. Achieving goals/resolutions is much like building a house. And yes, before any of you creative visualization folks jump down my throat, I WILL say having an idea...a mental picture of what I want...can be an important first step to reaching my goals, too. But sitting and staring (or daydreaming) about the Martha Stewart home in the magazine doesn't magically make the dang thing appear either!
For me, I must first lay out the plan or steps of my goal...the blue print of my theoretical "home" I am about to build. I must carefully think through the design, what tools I will need, what materials will be necessary, and why I really WANT to build my "home" in the first place. And then, I must discuss with myself the idea of consistency and discipline...is my goal something I CAN feasibly do? Will I have the energy to complete the "build"? Can I enlist others to assist me? What if I run out of this material or that amount of energy?...where can I find more? I certainly don't want to clutter up my mental neighborhood with a partially build structure that serves no purpose in the end...and something I've expended a lot of energy on for naught. I find THIS particular stage of my goal-setting to actually be the most important for me...the planning and assessment.
There's a lot that goes into preparing to build a house. Clearing of land and digging for the basement (or taking a good look at dysfunctional behaviors and digging deep into my psyche to discover what is under my foundation), finding the funding (or energy source), gathering supplies (or support systems, friends, sleep...whatever is needed to begin), are just a few things I must think about BEFORE I begin the construction. If I have taken the time to draw up detailed "plans" of my home, the actual BUILDING part is relatively easy...sweat on the brow, but for the most part, simply following the blue print.
In my past, one of the important pieces I lacked in achieving my goals was the MAINTENANCE portion of the goal...yep...hitting a mark is one thing, but staying there is another. Going back to the analogy of the home, it's easy to understand...if I do nothing to maintain my "home", it will quickly fall to shambles from neglect. I must remain ever-vigilant of the "termites" in my mind...those behaviors and ideas that are destructive...in order to keep my home in proper working/living order.
I have, on occasion, had to enlist outside "inspectors" and "exterminators" to help me with the maintenance portion of my goal achievement. Sometimes I NEED to heed the warning of a friend or someone I trust to tell me, from their vantage view point, this behavior or that idea is harmful to my structure or slowly eating away at my "home". I certainly don't like to be TOLD I have developed an infestation, but I am always thankful someone takes the time to do just that...before my goal is completely eroded away.
My hope for you, if you ARE someone who sets goals or New Year's Resolutions, is that you really take the time to PLAN what it is you wish to achieve in 2008....that you give yourself all the advantage you might need to be successful...and that you surround yourself with friends or family who carry hammers, who are there to give you a rest from your project when you need one, and who support you no matter what you are attempting to "build". And with that, you begin to build your dream home...wherever that may be...