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Resolve To Please Yourself

Resolve To Please Yourself

If I had lost just 1 pound and saved $100 for every New Year’s I had resolved to lose weight and save money, I would be as svelte as actor Alfonso Ribeiro and as wealthy as the character he once portrayed on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

Perhaps my aspirations should be higher than matching the life of Will’s geeky cousin, but someone once said I looked like a well-fed Carlton Banks, jamming that notion in my brain like a bad song.

The point is I annually come up short on New Year’s resolutions, and apparently, I’m not alone. Studies indicate more than 80 percent of Americans don’t keep resolutions.

So why do we bother?

Patrick Wanis, an author and human behavior expert, coaches his celebrity clients to set personal goals but believes people make a mistake when they try to embrace New Year’s resolutions.

It seems contradictory, but Wanis said resolutions tend to be mere wish lists because people don’t have a plan to turn them into reality.

Wanis recently shared with me a piece he once wrote about resolutions, confirming his thoughts haven’t changed.

“Too many people simply adhere to tradition and do what others are doing to fit in with the crowd and to be accepted,” Wanis wrote. “In many ways, our actions in regards to New Year’s resolutions are almost equivalent to self-sabotage. We resolve to do something — we might even begin a program — and within a month or two, we drop out.

“Subsequently, we will then beat ourselves up, telling ourselves that we are weak, undisciplined, powerless, a failure and a loser.”

Well, I never called myself a loser, I just compared myself to a sitcom actor who hasn’t had a hit show in 12 years, and, in the process, insulted the actor. Yeah.

Anyway, Wanis wrote there is only one resolution people should set, and it will make all other goals possible. “Rid yourself of one of the key subconscious blocks to love, joy, success and happiness: believe in your self-worth by approving of yourself.”

Okay, I get that: strive to change myself for me, not to please someone else. But what else can we do?

University of Tampa psychology professor Joseph Sclafani suggests success can be a matter of changing your environment and social support. It’s not about getting the approval of others — the mistake Wanis identified — rather, it’s about putting yourself in a better position to achieve goals.

“If you want to lose weight, but you work in a bakery, it’s probably not going to happen,” Sclafani said. “If you really want to lose weight, change jobs.”

Sclafani offered three suggestions:

• Create support groups. Get work colleagues to promise to lose weight and exercise together.

• Write goals down, and post them in visible areas, like the mirror or the refrigerator.

• Set realistic and specific expectations. If you want to be friendlier, make a subgoal of smiling at five people every day.

It’s all good advice, but can I transfer that into action?

In the end, I desire positive changes more than ever. It’s a mix of getting closer to 50 (I turn 48 in January) and sheer necessity.

Life is not getting easier.

Clearly, however, it takes more than desire. We all need a plan, goals and steps to maintain motivation. Most of all, we need to define ourselves not by the comical asides made by friends, but by serious introspection that challenges and supports.

Let’s do this.

That’s all I’m saying.

This is an archived copy of the Tampa Bay Times print article – Dec 30, 2011 by Ernest Hooper

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