As I write this, we are approximately 12 days into the New Year. As you read this, it could be 13 days in, or maybe even 13 weeks. I have no idea. Regardless, I write with the understanding that at one point in this New Year or in this lifetime, most of us have pondered the idea of a New Year’s Resolution. I also write with the understanding that thanks to human nature, the farther away from New Year’s we get, the more our resolutions fade by the wayside.
While there are as many possible resolutions as there are people, it seems a common theme exists in the land of fresh starts and promises. About.com listed the following as top ten resolutions: spend more time with family and friends, focus on fitness, lose weight, quit smoking, enjoy life more, quit drinking, get out of debt, learn something new, help others, and get organized. These are all noble resolutions, no doubt. Perhaps one or more of these showed up on your list.
When you consider these promises (and resolutions in general), it’s safe to say that the central theme involves improving our lives. This is a good thing, of course, but also nothing to sneeze at. Lofty goals can lead to even loftier disappointments and frustrations if (and often when) we fall off the New Year’s wagon. A few days of healthy eating followed by one too many fast food benders has the power send us all to the Twinkie aisle.
The truth is, whether we have one or many changes we want to make, we are bound to screw up every now and then. And screwing up, more often than not, leads to a thought pattern of “screw it,” therefore effectively shelving our good intentions until the next December 31.
I understand the threat of the fizzling intention all too well. One of my resolutions this year was to set time aside everyday for solid writing. I planned to be at my laptop by 5 a.m., starting each day in a productive manner. My snooze button did not get the memo regarding this plan. I also vowed to limit my sugar, a promise which ended when I discovered a forgotten tin of Christmas cookies five minutes after a New Year’s Day run.
This is how most of my past resolutions have gone… they sounded good for about an hour, maybe a day or two tops… then it became “what resolution?” However, my resolution from last year has stuck, and has ironically been the force behind my new theory on resolutions in general. Last year, I committed to do Bikram Yoga at least 3 times per week… in order to help my running. It turns out, the benefits to my running were the icing on the cake as this yoga instead introduced me to a whole new way of thinking that spilled out into all other areas of my life.
In a nutshell, this yoga is pretty crazy- the room is 105 degrees, the class is 90 minutes long, and the yogis do the same 26 postures (2 times each) every single class. The class is exactly the same each and every time, right down to the instructor’s dialog. The poses and the order in which they are performed are designed to deliver medical, physical, and emotional benefits. Because every aspect of this practice is scientifically planned and ordered, the instructor reminds us often that all we have to do is “trust the process” and give it our 110% effort to get 110% benefits.
A love-hate relationship ensues as we do postures that are guaranteed to warm up and stretch every joint, muscle, ligament, tendon, vertebrae and organ of the body down to the cellular level. With this kind of claim, one can only guess that the postures are hard. Maddening at times. But here’s the thing. As we go through each of these postures, the instructor recites a dialog that encourages and inspires, reminding us of certain key facts about our lives, disguised as facts about “the yoga”.
Four points I’ve heard for the past year can be directly applied to this business of New Year’s Resolutions, and why perhaps we should look at them as more of a “new day’s resolution” because “everyday is a new start” according to Bikram.