There was a cosmic event last week. For the first time in 400 years, one could view a full lunar eclipse on the Winter Solstice. If you were crazy enough (like me), you even went outside in the cold and stared up at a reddish, glowing moon. (What was really a cosmic event was that it was clear enough on the normally foggy Northcoast to actually view it!)
At precisely 12:01AM January 2, another cosmic event shall occur, although it happens annually. Step outside at that moment and you will hear a giant clunking sound rumbling across this wide land as the consciousness of the population shifts from “how much can I indulge?” to “how can I undo what I’ve done to myself for the last two months?”
To capture this public consciousness, you will be inundated with experts telling you how to stick to resolutions and providing all sorts of tools to assist you in that noble quest. Advertisements for in-home gym equipment will converge on you. Infomercials will scream (falsely): “LOSE WEIGHT WITHOUT CHANGING YOUR HABITS.” The back page of periodicals will sport a full-page banners proclaiming: “SECRETS THE WEIGHT LOSS INDUSTRY DOESN’T WANT YOU TO KNOW.”
Simply put, these are gimmicks. Remember the adage, “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.”
Reality is that we are where we are because of what we have done so far. Period. If we wish to be somewhere else, we must do something else. No matter how loud the scam artists scream from the rafters, nothing changes if nothing changes.
If one were to look at the construction of our lives in the same way a contractor might plan to build a barricade, things make sense. Each brick is carefully chosen, sized, and cemented in its space. Over time, an entire, structurally sound wall is formed and the structure evolves into a fine fortress, secure in it’s ability to prevent intruders. However, it can also hold us prisoner.
Although our bricks are made neither of quartz nor clay, we are architects; our building blocks are the actions and thoughts we have used and reused over the decades. As illustration, the block entitled “celebrate” is often located next to the one labeled “eat.” The unit holding down “take a walk” is entitled “stay comfortable.”
Resolutions fail because we try and remove too many of bricks at once. “This is the year I’m going to lose 20 pounds, stop smoking, exercise daily, stress less, and spend more time with my family,” we proclaim. It’s not that these are unworthy or unachievable goals; it’s that they are so interwoven into the wall of our life that we have to demolish the whole entity simply to move forward. To drop some weight, I must re-learn how to celebrate, shop, and handle my emotions. If ceasing smoking is the objective, I must find a substitute when the habit calls, develop support, and learn rearrange my life so a new option is always at the ready. Every change requires a series of others to support it, a cascading effect. Stated else wise, I cannot demolish my wall, I must substitute each brick with a fresh one or my entire existence feels like it has literally fallen apart and I rush quickly to rebuild it.
To get past this Catch 22, think smaller. Resolve to pick the ONE thing that matters most and agree to repeat this action every day NO MATTER WHAT. Once you have cemented that in place, add on to it.
Success is built in small steps; failure collapses all at once.
About the author: In 1994, after a lifetime of obesity, Scott “Q” Marcus lost 70 pounds and assists people and organizations who are tired of making promises they have continually broken but are ready to change. He can be reached for coaching, consulting or presentations at www.ThisTimeIMeanIt.com or you can find him at www.facebook.com/scottqmarcus or @iMeanItThisTime