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About this blog: I developed a special interest in helping seniors with their challenges and transitions when my dad had a stroke and I helped him through all the various stages of downsizing, packing, moving and finding an assisted living communi...  (More)

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Why Most New Year's Resolutions Die an Early Death

Uploaded: Dec 30, 2014
January 1st. The "BIG" day. It's just about here. And the New Year's resolutions are flying off the shelves. Lose weight, work out, eat right, work harder, make more money, stop cheating, be nicer, give more to charity. The list goes on. The main reason I believe that most of these resolutions don't have a lot of staying power is because they come from a place of "I have to" rather than "I want to." Think about how well you do something that you want to do rather than something you have to do. If we can make the simple mental adjustment from the "have to" to the "want to", then virtually any task can be done better, quicker and more enjoyably. Take getting fit: If your resolution is to start going to the gym and eating better because I'm getting fat and saggy, then your mind is looking at that as an unwelcome chore, and you'll be way over that resolution by end of January. But just picture the results and wonderful benefits that will come from exercising and eating right: you're looking slim, have so much more energy, feeling stronger, not putting processed foods and sugars into your body. You'll live healthier and longer, be able to enjoy your kids and grandkids as a healthy person. Just make the list of the benefits, and imagine them as if they have already happened. See how that feels. Visualize it before it's occurred. That's all the encouragement you'll need to follow through on that resolution of something you "want to" rather than "have to" do. It really is that simple for most folks.
Now regarding something like losing weight and eating right, for those of us who are compulsive eaters/sugar addicts and need to change their entire relationship with food, a simple mind-shift may not do the trick. A support group may be what is needed and may involve a multi-step process. Luckily such groups do exist. Happy New Year!
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Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park,
on Dec 31, 2014 at 9:41 am

>>> The main reason I believe that most of these resolutions don't have a lot of staying power is because they come from a place of "I have to" rather than "I want to."

That is an interesting framing ... mostly rhetorical.

I have to do "whatever" because I want to live longer and be healthy?

"Have" is more intellectual, while "want" is more physical, sensual and emotional.

I don't get these mincing of words for the most part, or know if they are helpful.

There was a great analogy I read in a neuroscience book, or maybe it was a pseudo-neuroscience book, but the idea was to like our "beings" to a man riding an elephant. The man has the brains, and is up high and can see farther and knows more, but the elephant wants what it wants and gets scared and can stampede out of control.

Maybe there is a trick to getting the two to work in parallel, but my little man has yet to learn elephant, and my elephant usually does not feel inclined to listen to any little man hitching a ride on this back.

For me that man-elephant communication is hard, and compromise takes a long time. I don't know and cannot predict how or when it will happen, but I know it does on occasion. I did quit smoking a long while ago.

One thing I know helps is to think creatively about small changes you can realistically make. Maybe you won't get to the gym every day, but you can walk around the block, or bike to work, or find some other small incremental change that will set you on the road to displacing the thing you want to do less of.

Posted by Max Greenberg, a resident of Midtown,
on Jan 1, 2015 at 11:15 am

CrescentParkAnon: Thanks for your thoughtful comment. I liked the elephant lesson. Thought provoking. At the same time I don't think my distinction is rhetorical at all. The "want to" approach can be as intellectually well-thought out as the "need to" one. Since I believe you can flip from one to the other, why wouldn't one want to frame necessary tasks in a way that it was more likely to get done, and done well. Regarding your last point about choosing small tasks you can realistically get done: often folks set their goals based on what they perceive are their capabilities and current resources. I say: decide what you want without first lining up what you'll need to get there. You'll be surprised that many of the resources you need to get there are right there in front of you, but since there never was a need for them, you never knew they were there. Or now that there is a need, you'll go out and find what is required to achieve the goal. No need, no perceive. Happy New Year, and keep reading. I appreciate it.

Posted by Sea-Seelam REDDY, a resident of College Terrace,
on Jan 11, 2015 at 8:21 am

Dear Palo Alto citizens

We have one new year resolution that we can not give up by the second week.
It is called FREEDOM.

We live in Palo Alto, a great community of people that are peace loving.

But, we need to express our support to FRANCE citizens on barbaric killings in Paris.

We need to support FREEDOM of EXPRESSION by newspapers. Cartoons are to provoke thought, wisdom and not GUNs and KILLINGs.

Let us all come together to say 'we are with you, FRANCE'.


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