With the dawn of the New Year comes the rush of excitement at the opportunity to “start anew” in the coming months. Resolutions, goals and hard-core commitments are often laid out in front of us as the road map for the next 365 days. But for some this excitement leads to a crash like a child after all the presents have been opened. Our resolution battle cries for change slowly fade away and we are left with our list that becomes more of a reminder of what we didn’t do versus what we did. The idea of New Year’s resolutions are nothing new with historical accounts dating back to pre-Christian times (fun little history lesson for you here). With resolutions being around for so long, why do so many of us reach that critical drop off point after roughly 90 days? Haven’t we come up with the secret formula to allow us to sustain and endure throughout the entire year? Simply put, no, until now! I have worked tirelessly with countless physicists, math mathematicians and psychologists to come up with a foolproof algorithm for achieving all of your 2014 goals. Ready? Here is it is…(intentionally blank).
Yeah, a let down I know, but the fact of the matter is goal setting and resolutions are very individualized and therefore need an individualized approach. With that being said I think it is important to redefine what it is you are trying to do and understand more about the underlying variables related to the changes you want to make.
I find the term resolution to be a part of why we see less follow through. It doesn’t get to the essence of what is taking place. By definition a resolution is a course of action determined or decided on. So, this simply states that by developing a resolution you have decided to do something. Which is great and I commend you, but what if you set out on a New Year’s EVOLUTION? Evolution is defined as a gradual process in which something changes into a different and usually more complex or better form. This is the essence of what we are trying to accomplish is it not? We set each year to be more organized, to lose weight, save more, spend less, and be with our families more. All of these goals require a change, a change for the better and thus an evolution of you! When I treat patients there often is a spot or region of pain that has brought them into see me. Whether it is their shoulder, knee, low back or neck, most patients can clearly identify where they are feeling their symptoms. The interesting part though is that where they hurt may not be the true source of their pain. As complex as the body is, pain can emanate from remote structures and areas of our body and be felt somewhere completely different. It is because of this that as clinicians we need to do a thorough evaluation and try to understand the source of the condition not just where things are being felt.
As you set out on your evolution I encourage you to look at your plan in much the same way. Let’s take losing weight as an example. The physical change we are hoping to create has many variables to it. Nutrition, sleep, hydration, exercise, stress etc can all contribute to our current physical states. So for us to make blanket statements like “I want to lose 25 pounds this year” we are only discussing the “signs and symptoms” not the cause. So the next logical step is to outline what it is going to take to lose 25 pounds. Changes to nutritional habits and exercising more will likely need to be a part of the equation. But go one step further. What drives your eating habits? Do you eat when you are stressed, depressed, bored? Does the lack of exercise stem from a lack of energy due to depression or poor sleep habits due to work related stress? My point here is that much like the physical conditions I see in the clinic, going into greater detail about the individual situation helps to understand more about why things are the way they are. For goal setting and true evolution it will be vital to have a deeper level of knowledge about the why so you can do what is necessary to truly evolve and not just resolve. I support everyone that talks to me about the plans for the New Year and hope that they all are successful in making the changes they are looking to make. If you are interested in an additional point of view regarding goal setting take a look at this 2013 article from Peter Bergman.