It’s January 6. How are your New Years’ Resolutions going? I teach a fitness class at the local Y. The first two weeks of January always welcomes many new students. By the first week of February, they are gone. Is that what happens to your resolutions? 

I went through all the self-help guru teaching of the 80s and 90s (and they continue unto today, but I got off the train). Set a number of goals, write them, keep the list in a prominent place, trick your mind into thinking they’re good for you, willpower over joy, and so on.

There is another word that often goes with this idea–discipline. When I was in my late teens and early twenties, discipline was a “four-letter word” in my vocabulary. It’s the opposite of freedom, right? And as an American, I worshipped freedom. Good, except that chaos isn’t freedom. It’s, well, chaotic.

What I’ve discovered through the help of many wise people whom I’ve read is that it is better to consciously choose your habits. We all have habits, except that they are usually the path of least resistance. But we can look at our lives and decide what habits we need to change–one habit will help us lose weight and be more fit; another brings us closer to God; another brings us closer to important people in our lives.

I’m working on a new habit for my early morning routine. It’s mostly working so far, except that I haven’t squeezed in this writing part. But people who have trod this path say that it takes 30 days to establish a new habit (or pattern of living, if you will). They also suggest not working on more than one or two habits at a time.

Could I make a couple of suggestions? If you are concerned about weight and fitness, don’t set a goal of weighing X number of pounds by spring. Just see yourself as slim(mer) and fit. Then establish one habit this month. Maybe it’s eating at Subway rather than McDonalds for lunch. Maybe it’s walking for 30 minutes every day at a certain time. You get the idea. That will help your physical health–which is important.

Maybe you need a new habit for your spiritual health? Or to further your education? Or to help you achieve the next level in your organization (I read once about a guy who decided to change his habit of always being late, which led him to change other habits one at a time to where he became punctual, organized, a leader–try that.).

Here’s to a great 2012 for us all.

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