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resolution |ˌrezəˈloō sh ən|noun

1 a firm decision to do or not to do something : she kept her resolution not to see Anne any more | a New Year’s resolution.
• a formal expression of opinion or intention agreed on by a legislative body, committee, or other formal meeting, typically aftertaking a vote : the conference passed two resolutions.
• the quality of being determined or resolute :

the problem with resolutions is most people make them on December 31st and break them before January 15th. they often involve huge sweeping changes that are generally overwhelming. people vow to lose a certain number of pounds, to run a marathon, quit smoking, get a new job, move or be happier.

the idea of making change is a good one. but the notion of huge change all at once is what causes so many failures. people who own gyms LOVE this time of year because so many people join as part of a resolution. by end of January or February many of those same people will not be seen again. some will continue to pay a monthly fee or had already paid in full up front, so the gym owners really don’t care.

when i work with clients i remind them that change happens in incremental steps. rather than focus on pounds, focus on immediate change — i.e. drop one can of soda a day, park farther away in the parking lot, add a fruit or a vegetable. these changes are immediate and visible and can ultimately lead to the end goal of weight loss.

if someone has never run a marathon i help them break down the resolution from where they are today. are they a runner at all? is the resolution to buy appropriate running shoes and start walking/running or is it to increase their current capacity to a half marathon?

smoking cessation is one of the hardest habits to break. some believe you must stop immediately while others consider tapering down. its important to track when you smoke and why. i had a client who discovered she smoked when bored, anxious or “because everyone else was going on a smoke break.” when she dealt with her anxiety and found a solution to her boredom the change became less difficult. she began knitting in the evenings to keep her hands occupied!

for clients who want to write, draw, paint, etc. i tell them the same thing. try to do a bit every day. a sentence, a paragraph, a doodle. a journal helps. if they can get past the mindset that it is a “daily diary.” i remind them it is not like a teenage diary where a snapshot of each day is committed to paper. it is about thoughts, ideas, concepts. carry it everywhere and write when ideas strike. some people use their phones as a substitute. it is a great way to be consistent.

consistency is the key. there are theories that it takes 21, 28 or 40 days to effect change in behavior. in the 1960s, a book published by a plastic surgeon, Dr Maxwell Maltz reported that amputees took, on average, 21 days to adjust to the loss of a limb and he argued that people take 21 days to adjust to any major life changes.

rehabs are often 28 days, but many believe that is based on insurance and their 21-28 day change formula.

then there is the 40 day concept. this notion is often based more in spirituality.

40 days comes up in the Bible often – it rained for 40 days/nights,  the Israelites spent 40 years in the wilderness before reaching the Promised Land, Jesus wandered for 40 days in the desert.

40 days in other spiritual contexts:
Buddha sat under a tree and meditated for 40 days.
Mohammed prayed and fasted for 40 days.

so resolve to continue. to make the same small change daily for 21, 28, 40, 60, 90, days and continue until it is no longer a change to think about but a given behavior. once a change is transformed into your routine, related changes can follow.

if Buddha, Mohammed and Jesus all had to wait 40 days to change, what’s your rush?