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"If a fellow isn't thankful for what he's got, he isn't likely to be thankful for what he's going to get."
– Frank A. Clark  
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  Volume No. 15 Issue No. 11 November 2018  

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  New Year’s resolutions
  By Mark Stoller

   Mark Stoller is a nine-year resident of Colorado. He and his wife, Andra, both U.S. Air Force veterans, moved to Falcon in 2007 and are now raising their three teenage daughters in Latigo. They enjoy their home on the prairie with plenty of room for their six adopted dogs, bagpipes & Celtic Festivals and beekeeping. Mark enjoys the privilege of his wife and daughters being his muse for topics, people to meet and places to investigate.

   My dad shared a funny email about New Year’s resolutions gone bad. One statement said, “My goal was to lose 10 pounds this year — only 15 more to go.” We’ve all been there. The Good Idea Fairy descends on New Year’s Eve, and we write down a few sentences of noble intent. Somewhere around Jan. 4, we realize they’re empty promises and quickly forget them. Just another new year keeping the status quo without learning a new language, losing weight or getting organized, etc.
   Thankfully, there is hope and a way to turn this around. It takes understanding how your brain works and some choice four letter words! Ready? They are WHAT, WANT and the scary one –- WORK.
   Comprehending the three sections of your brain helps with making good resolutions. First, the cerebellum handles life support such as breathing and heartbeat. Second, the limbic portion rules over emotion and safety. Third, the neocortex controls logic and reasoning when choosing or deciding.
   How often do we wreck our goal to lose 10 pounds by sneaking “just one” donut — which becomes two, three — or the whole dozen? While the neocortex knows you need to lose weight, the limbic perceives the slightest hint of deprivation as a safety hazard and screams, “Eat that donut!” It’s a real tug-of-war.
   With our understanding of the brain, it is time to address the above mentioned four-letter words to break the code of writing and living your resolutions.
   WHAT is the true purpose of the goal? Writing an effective resolution requires invoking both the emotional and logical sections of your brain. Instead of dismissively writing “lose 10 pounds,” consider this alternative: “I will feel better in my clothing and appreciate the way I look in the mirror when I lose 10 pounds.” This engages the emotions and applies deeper meaning to the logical goal. It sounds flowery, but it is effective!
   Do you really WANT to carry out your resolution? Is this an arbitrary idea or a true desire for change? Marcus Aurelius, a famous Roman Emperor, wrote in his journal, “Get busy with life’s purpose. Toss aside empty hopes and get active in your own rescue!”
   Are you willing to do the WORK? The most critical and successful technique I found is the concept of “micro-commitments.” You don’t need an hour or more each day for your goal because it becomes too cumbersome. Identify 15 to 20 focused minutes every day to plan, stretch, write, read or exercise.
   Instead of focusing on losing pounds of weight, choose a fitness goal. Set milestones to achieve a certain number of push-ups or reach a specified distance to walk or run. There will be days when you don’t feel like exercising. Be disciplined. Stick to it. The weight will reduce through activity.
   Living out your resolution takes preparation. I read of a woman who chose a “Word of the Year.” She selected the word “grace” and studied its meaning, sought examples of how others demonstrated it and then visualized how she would exemplify the word. As a reminder, she wrote “grace” on well-placed sticky notes and in her journal.
   Accountability is key when committing to something new. Bullet Journals are a new and popular way to create your own week/month-at-a-glance. More than a calendar, you can write your list of goals, reminders; track spending, exercise, and re-read motivational quotes. There are numerous, great examples on Pinterest. The check mark visualization facilitates self-discipline, picturing your success and identifying areas where more work is needed.
   Now that you have the idea, I’ll leave you with a profound Japanese proverb, “The biggest room in the world is the room for improvement.” Have a resolute and happy 2018!
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