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The New Year Plan: Are You Ready?

The New Year means different things to different people. For some, it inspires change for the better. For others, it’s just another year. The rest of us tend to fall somewhere in between.

For the inspired, great successes will ensue. For the pseudo inspired, great intentions will ensue for about thirty days instead of 365. Nevertheless, they tried, and that counts for something, right?

Sometimes our resolution passion masks our tendency to procrastinate. When you couldn’t button your pants in May, hated your job in June, realized you’re missing important family time in July, smoked too much in August, drank too much in September, or recognized you were in an unfulfilling relationship in October … why are you waiting until January 1 to change?

Do we unconsciously put self-improvement on pause throughout the year, waiting for the right time or right inspiration to press play? Is this the reason we don’t fix problems when they’re identified? Are we hoping for inspiration on New Year’s Day, our birthday, or even through a crisis—not realizing that the occasion doesn’t matter if we aren’t ready? Change doesn’t start when you identify the problem. It starts when you decide you’re ready to change. Change is hard, but deferred change can be overwhelming, even when you have motivation.

A workaholic friend of mine was diagnosed with cancer. It was caught early, and he had a great prognosis.

He told me his initial reaction to hearing “cancer” was fear of not being here to watch his young children grow up. I said, “Aren’t you doing that now, since you work about a million hours a week?” He responded, “Point taken.”

For years, his workaholic habits were an issue with his family and friends, but he didn’t change. After he was successfully treated and returned to work, he was home by dinner for the first eighteen months. But as time went on, he began to backslide to his old ways. Even so, when his family complains, he now listens and immediately corrects himself. He continues to struggle from time to time, but he makes a concerted effort every day to do better. Like most of us, he’s a work in progress.

Change is a struggle. There is a song that says, “Falling in love can be easy, but staying in love is too tricky.” The same goes for trying to change. Identifying the need to change can be easy, but changing is very tricky.

In our current “microwave” culture, where we are expected to fast-track everything from success to the grieving process; coupled with being electronically leashed to our jobs, we are challenged more. These two factors may constrain our downtime to the point that quick results are more relatable. But sometimes we have to resist that urge, keep it simple, and literally take it one hour, one day, and one challenge at a time. Old habits cling to us like steam on a mirror, and even when we try to wipe them away, the process is not always easy. So what do we do? Realize it’s a process that takes commitment, time, patience, and resilience when we backslide—it’s not a microwave fix.

So if you plan to be a new you in the New Year, just remember if you are a long ways from where you need to be, it may take you a while to gain lasting results. So while you are on your way, focus on doing better every day until you get there.