A New Year, A New Hope

January 5, 2021 Joe Brady

From mask-wearing to getting a vaccine to losing weight, 2021 will very much become whatever we make it. So much of the last year was out of our control that 2020 by far goes down as one of the worst years in history. 2021 will be a year of doubling down on precautions and if we do that right the year will also begin the rebuilding. Rebuilding starts from the ground up. While we are waiting for the vaccines to work and the virus to recede, we can begin rebuilding our own lives. We all make new year resolutions each year and sometimes we actually follow through on them. This year more than any other we need to take back control of our lives and it begins by taking control of the little stuff. We can’t control the virus, but we can take control of lunch and by shaving off a few calories here and a few calories there we can be well on our way to losing those pounds. Having already voted we cannot control the chaos in Washington, but we can take a walk this afternoon. Helplessness is the worst way to feel, the human brain hates feeling helpless. This past year we have been helpless to control so many things and it felt awful. This year brings not only a new year but also a new hope for a better future. However we cannot wait for salvation to come we must take control of our lives and make it happen, in small ways at first but like the snowball rolling downhill small beginnings can lead to large results.

After being beaten down again and again in 2020 we all need little inspiration to get off the couch and get moving. Here is a list of inspiring New Year’s resolution TED talks and advice from Harvard Medical School on gaining some inspiration and motivation to make 2021 a much better year for our health, our families, and hopefully for our nation.

Ted Talks to inspire

Take inspiration from some of the best TED talks in this selected list of inspirational talks. The same resolutions every year — get more sleep, eat healthier — we know the drill. Let these talks inspire you to keep with those goals and perhaps add a few more to your list too.

https://www.ted.com/playlists/609/motivation_for_the_new_year_and_every_day_really

Tips for inspiration from Harvard Medical School

Creating new habits takes time and energy. A new behavior won’t become automatic overnight, but you may enjoy some of its benefits fairly quickly. Also, as you start to take walks regularly or engage in stress-soothing practices frequently, you’ll find you won’t feel quite right if you stop. That’s a great incentive to continue. So, keep nudging yourself in the direction you’d like to go. And try the following seven tips to help you create long-lasting change.

1. Dream big. Audacious goals are compelling. Want to compete in a marathon or triathlon? Lose 50 pounds or just enough to fit into clothes you once loved? With perseverance, encouragement, and support, you can do it. An ambitious aim often inspires others around you. Many will cheer you on. Some will be happy to help in practical ways, such as by training with you or taking on tasks you normally handle in order to free up your time.

2. Break big dreams into small-enough steps. Now think tiny. Small steps move you forward to your ultimate goal. Look for surefire bets. Just getting to first base can build your confidence to tackle — and succeed at — more difficult tasks. Don’t disdain easy choices. If you start every plan with “Make list,” you’re guaranteed to check one box off quickly. That’s no joke: a study on loyalty programs that aim to motivate consumers found giving people two free punches on a frequent-buyer card encouraged repeat business. So break hard jobs down into smaller line items, and enjoy breezing through the easy tasks first.

3. Understand why you shouldn’t make a change. That’s right. Until you grasp why you’re sticking like a burr to old habits and routines, it may be hard to muster enough energy and will to take a hard left toward change. Unhealthy behaviors like overeating and smoking have immediate, pleasurable payoffs as well as costs. So, when you’re considering a change, take time to think it through. You boost your chance of success when the balance of pluses and minuses tips enough to make adopting a new behavior more attractive than standing in place. Engaging in enjoyable aspects of an unhealthy behavior, without the behavior itself, helps too. For example, if you enjoy taking a break while having a smoke, take the break and enjoy it, but find healthier ways to do so. Otherwise, you’re working against a headwind and are less likely to experience lasting success.

4. Commit yourself. Make yourself accountable through a written or verbal promise to people you don’t want to let down. That will encourage you to slog through tough spots. One intrepid soul created a Facebook page devoted to her goals for weight loss. You can make a less public promise to your partner or child, a teacher, doctor, boss, or friends. Want more support? Post your promise on Facebook, tweet it to your followers, or seek out folks with like-minded goals online.

5. Give yourself a medal. Don’t wait to call yourself a winner until you’ve pounded through the last mile of your big dream marathon or lost every unwanted ounce. Health changes are often incremental. Encourage yourself to keep at it by pausing to acknowledge success as you tick off small and big steps en route to a goal. Blast your favorite tune each time you reach 5,000 steps. Get a pat on the back from your coach or spouse. Ask family and friends to cheer you on. Look for an online support group.

6. Learn from the past. Any time you fail to make a change, consider it a step toward your goal. Why? Because each sincere attempt represents a lesson learned. When you hit a snag, take a moment to think about what did and didn’t work. Maybe you took on too big a challenge? If so, scale back to a less ambitious challenge, or break the big one into tinier steps. If nailing down 30 consecutive minutes to exercise never seems to work on busy days, break that down by aiming for three 10-minute walks — one before work, one during lunch, one after work — or a 20-minute walk at lunch plus a 10-minute mix of marching, stair climbing, and jumping rope or similar activities slipped into your TV schedule.

7. Give thanks for what you do. Forget perfection. Set your sights on finishing that marathon, not on running it. If you compete to complete, you’ll be a winner even if you wind up walking as much as you run. With exercise — and so many other goals we set — you’ll benefit even when doing less than you’d like to do. Any activity is always better than none. If your goal for Tuesday is a 30-minute workout at the gym, but you only squeeze in 10 minutes, feel grateful for that. It’s enough. Maybe tomorrow will be better.

Making a change can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Get the Special Health Report, Simple Changes, Big Rewards: A practical, easy guide for healthy, happy living to learn how to incorporate simple changes into your life that can reap big rewards.