Sticker Shock and Resolutions

The new year is typically the time for resolutions. For most people, it involves losing weight. As someone who has lost around 100 pounds, I can tell you losing weight is the easy part; keeping it off is harder. I’ve kept it off for close to a decade now. I did it not by a resolution, but small changes. I measured what I ate. I ate more vegetables, less bread, and red meat. I changed my workout routines, and I weigh myself daily. The “resolution” didn’t happen in the new year, but rather in the fall, when I realized I was tired of being overweight compared to my brother in law.

It wasn’t a big event, it was a slow realization, followed by a resolution, followed by a series of small, daily, and maintainable changes. People look at the new year as a time for a change, but any time in the year is a time for a change. A resolution is great, but unless you follow it up with SMART goals, it will remain a resolution and not a result. So, whether you want to read more, write more, weigh less, gain control of you money, focus less on the goal, and more on the process.

Another thing that may happen this time of year is sticker shock. I recently had this as I experienced for the first time the tax cost of self-employment. Perhaps for some people, this will happen when the cost of gifts start rolling in; it’s easy to overspend on the holidays without thinking. This is especially true with the easy access to credit cards. Then the bill comes in. Do you get angry? Or, like above, do you resolve to make a change and then implement a process. Connecting the new year and sticker shocker may seem a bit tenuous, but ultimately, both times are great chances to develop a new process.

Trust the process. It’s been proven to be the only thing that works for making real, effective change in life. A resolution without a process will never become a result.

A New Year

Let’s get this new year off to a good start. A new year, a new blogging habit. While I’m not a believer in resolutions, the turn of the year is a good time to take stock of things and make small changes.

How do you effect change in your life? Do you want to read more? Set aside time every day for reading. Start small, only 10 minutes per day. Don’t focus on the number of pages or books you’ve read, focus on reading for 10 minutes without interruptions. Within a short time, you’ll have formed a habit, and you’ll start to read. Then you can start increasing the amount of time and even keep track of things like your reactions to what you read. The same goes for any habit you want to pick up, whether it’s meditation, writing, practicing a sport, playing a game. Start small to establish the habit, then build up from there.

In my case, there are many habits I’m trying to build. I won’t mention them, but I will say my end goal is to have a blog that has daily updates of short, readable posts. I’m not quite sure what the main topic will be, but it will be a semi-journal in that my writings will involve my thoughts and feelings.

For this first post, the topic currently on my mind is thinking and my lack of it. I find myself, like so many others, having a reduce attention span. I find it challenging to read long-form articles, and I find it challenging to sit just think. I also find it challenging to sit and give something my undivided attention. I’m not going to list what the reasons are, as that is not productive. Rather, I’ll detail my actions.

First, I’ve installed the StayFocusd Chrome extension to limit my usage of various sites, like Reddit and Facebook. No reason to fight with me over these sites when a tool can do it for me. Second, I’ve started tracking my meditation practices; my goal is for 2 10 minute sessions a day. The latter one will be right before I go to sleep to help my mind unwind. Third, I’ve committed to reading fiction before bed. This helps to place my mind in story mode. I’m currently working my way through the Dune series. Fourth, I’ve started dedicating 10 minutes a day, in the afternoon, to reading a nonfiction book.

The first book on the menu in this category is The Thinking Life, by P. M. Forni. It’s a short read but has immense return as Forni’s details out steps to help build thinking skills. The second book is Every Day is Game Day. There is a strong correlation between excellence in physical fitness and performance in other areas of life. As I recently earned my 1st-degree black belt in Isshin Ryu karate, this has the added bonus of helping me to improve on that style.

It’s time to close this post, as my timer is going off. I’m not sure where this will take me, but you need the first step. It will be interesting to review this in a year and see what the results are.