Originally published January 15 2008
Making a New Year's Resolution? How About Changing Your Mindset
by Al G Smith
(NaturalNews) It seemed appropriate to write an article about making New Year's resolutions. By coincidence as I was putting the article together it came to my attention, due to a chance viewing of a TV advertisement, that a major chemist chain (that's a drugstore for US readers) in the UK was offering advice about making realistic resolutions - the very topic I was writing about.
Now I was minded to talk about the fact that most people who set themselves resolutions end up failing to keep them for very long. The commonest resolutions revolve around dieting, exercise and giving up bad habits. Sometimes people try to achieve multiple resolutions in an effort to effect a 'lifestyle makeover'. The vast majority of these proving soon to be on a 'hiding-to-nothing' as the singular or combined influences of imposed lack of (so-called) treat-foods, muscular aches and joint pains, plus the agony of nicotine withdrawal conspire to undermine the hardiest of multiple-resolution-makers.
So it seems that the aforementioned UK chemist chain proposed at least one good idea, in their effort to encourage resolution setters to be realistic about what they can achieve. The temptation to try and set yourself too much of a challenge with respect to New Year's resolutions is only likely to lead to the dispiriting acceptance, normally within two months, or maybe much less, that you have failed in your quest to improve your health and wellbeing. The 'chemist's campaign' therefore focuses on the concept of 'changing one thing'.
It is widely acknowledged in the field of motivation that for the process of goal-setting to be effective the objective you choose must pose a real challenge but must also be achievable. If the challenge is too tough then you are doomed to failure. So choosing to tackle just one of your bad habits is more likely to result in success than aiming for multiple targets at once.
Whilst resolutions might relate to any number of things, it is generally the case that health and wellbeing goals are amongst the most common. Losing weight and getting fit figure high on the list. Naturally another popular resolution is to stop a bad habit; top choice in this case is to cease smoking. Interestingly the aforementioned chemist's promotional campaign also identifies 'improving your skin condition' as a likely resolution, for good reason on their part as you can probably surmise (a clue? Think about what they sell masses of! I'll comment further on this later on).
Naturally, using the power of the Internet, combined with TV advertising, the chemist's campaign was rapidly garnering new 'sign-ups' to their 'helpful forums'. I checked, and it appeared they were recruiting at the rate of a new 'resolution support seeker' every 1 to 2 minutes! This promises them a healthy database of folks who have already provided some critical personal information, within the next few days/weeks. The folks who signed up can assuredly expect to be pointed in the direction of plenty of 'helpful products' in the very near future. Clever old chemists!
When I was thinking about relevant, appropriate and achievable resolutions I certainly thought to summarize the same key areas as the campaign described above, to whit:
Losing weight, especially in the aftermath of an overly indulgent Christmastide is a fairly obvious necessity for many. But are most folks simply looking for a quick fix?. Have they considered that weight-loss is not just about temporarily dropping a few pounds that creep back on, plus a few more, by next New Year? Have they considered that they may well need to critically overhaul their complete diet, not just for a few weeks using this powder, that shake, the other fad-method, but permanently?
Sure, 'getting fit' is a worthy resolution. But how many gyms will benefit from a surge of annual fees from new members who start with enthusiasm but ultimately realize that their handful of visits cost them a King's ransom and achieved very little? How many will really think about what regular things they could do simply by changing some daily activities that would have as much, or more, impact on their fitness, and all for free?
No one can decry the worthy objective of giving up the evil weed, tobacco. We surely all realize by now that cigarettes would stand no chance of becoming legal products if someone tried to introduce them today. This highly addictive substance decimates the health of millions every year. There may be more 'help' available these days to support those who truly aim to give up cigarettes permanently, but it sadly seems a sure-fire bet that many of the successful long-term, ex-smokers-to-be will be replaced by a new generation of youngsters eager to contribute to the Government's coffers via tobacco taxation.
So it seems that for the weight-loss product manufacturer, and slimming clubs; for the gym complexes, sports centers, equipment manufacturers and makers of trainers; for the nicotine-patch producers, the 'self-hypnosis CD' salesmen, the News Year resolution season bodes well for a boost in profits. But how many resolution makers really sit down and take stock of the true meaning of resolution? How many consider that they alone can turn their goals into a reality, not by buying this that or the other product (and no doubt blaming the same for their imminent future failure) but by committing to make a permanent change in the way they look at food, the way they live their life and/or the way they choose to 'divert' themselves?
Resolutions are about committing to permanent change. They are not about achieving a quick-fix, making a short-term effort, or completing a course of pills, patches or push-ups! Many folks eventually become aware that they need to do something to preserve their health and well-being. Sometimes they may be inspired to be proactive; perhaps after taking a look in the mirror and being mortified by a moment of clarity. Sometimes they may be reactive; compelled to change due to suffering a specific health problem. Either way most are 'intelligent' enough to realize that change is needed; yet they are also often 'ignorant' of what is really being required of them.
Becoming overweight or unfit, or practicing a health-hazardous-habit all relate to the typical moral and philosophical weaknesses so many people suffer in today's so-called 'developed world'. In Western society, we rarely have to confront life's harshest realities. Occasionally we glimpse some of these through the window of the news media. But for most, thankful relief and distraction is soon provided by the next game show, sitcom, food-programme, or reality TV show. And if the news images of those less fortunate, in their pitiful plight, lingers then there is always the fantastic plastic which allows us to make a conscience-salving donation to our favorite charity.
It is my proposition that when it comes to choosing New Years resolutions there is one prime choice that most people fail to make. That is that they should be resolving, first and foremost, to 'change their minds'. If we have drifted into the regular over-consumption of food and booze, or if we spend too many hours vegetating in a virtual world of televisual indulgence, or if we continue to justify our health-decimating habits, it is all because we harbor the same ingrained, inappropriate mindset that we have had for years, perhaps since we were children. Without making changes at the root of our attitudes and beliefs we will not achieve permanent behavioral changes.
So if we are to make a resolution that will have the most far-reaching effect it should be to examine the foundation of our belief, attitudes and behavior. We then need to make the choice to 'change our minds' as appropriate. It will be a tough call, and you have to accept that there is no-one but you who can really achieve this goal. Sadly, too, I cannot see a major retailer supporting a resolution strategy that will of necessity be rooted in an acceptance that we need to change our attitude to thoughtless and conspicuous consumption. Even if that is the 'one thing' we all really need to change!
And before I forget, I promised to revisit the suggestion by the 'chemist' that a 'priority resolution' might be to 'improve your skin condition'. On the face of it (to coin a phrase) this seems a worthy enough thing to resolve to do. But I cannot help suspecting that, for the poor souls drawn in to signing up for advice and emails from the 'chemist', they will now be hounded to buy yet more synthetic chemical based skin care that potentially threatens far more than just the quality of their skin.
So who knows? A future New Year may yet come for those persuaded to use more nano-particulate based products, or products containing ingredients that are known mutagens, or products that can trigger allergies or sensitivities, or products that contain proven carcinogens; when the only resolution left to them will be to try and 'live a little longer'!
In fact I'm more than happy to make a resolution, even a promise, to stand naked in the busiest shop window in town, if it should transpire that the chemist's advice to 'better skin seekers' was to use only 100% natural, certified organic, synthetic chemical free skin care. I have no fear of having to fulfil such a promise, unless of course said chemist chain has itself made a 'resolution' to go bust!
About the authorAl G Smith MSc BSc - Has been working and teaching in the food related sector for over 30 years and is currently a website publisher (http://www.gonaturalandorganic.com) and Independent Representative for the World's first extensive range of Certified Organic skin care and cosmetics (http://www.saferalternative.com).
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