Resolution Deferred

Written by BG Howard

January 10, 2024

Less than two weeks ago, most of the world did their best to usher in a New Year as the calendar rolled over from 2023 to 2024.  Many have, as tradition would dictate, established resolutions regarding the need to do everything from lose weight to concentrate on the aims of personal spiritual growth.  By now, a number of those who’ve spoken their goals for the year are actively pursuing the end result; while others have already found themselves slipping toward activities of years past.

In all probability, this time next month will reveal a different view of people’s will to conquer their obstacles.  And another four to six weeks beyond that, their desires most certainly will have altogether changed or been wholeheartedly dismissed.  The unfortunate reality of New Year’s resolutions lies in the simple fact that they’re forever subject to the influence of old habits.

Webster defines a habit as “an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary.”  The definition suggests an activity that is more-or-less instinctive or without conscious thought.  There are people who, for example, impulsively light up a cigarette after each meal or at specific times of the day which is more habitual than anything.  They’ve simply developed a routine that dictates their actions concerning the detrimental activity.

New Year’s resolutions are typically designed as a means of recognition that a change needs to be made in any given area.  Whether it is committing to exercise more, eat less or spend more time with family, etc, there’s nothing wrong with resolving to make a change for the better but that modification of lifestyle is seldom realized.  That is, not until one is able to undergo a psychological transformation.  All the will in the world to do better serves little benefit without alteration of the mental precepts that have formulated what’s known as habits. 

Whether it represents what’s considered a good habit or a bad one, these are actions that have become engrafted into a person’s character.  So much so that it’s usually easy to identify people by what is “representative” of their distinct nature of conduct.  If an individual has been in the habit of performing certain activities on a regular basis, it’s rather difficult to break that vicious cycle.

If a person has been eating his or her final meal of the day late in the evenings and lying down for the night shortly after, that can be a challenging habit to break.  Other issues, of course, will invariably manifest themselves as the result of this continued unhealthy behavior.  Among other bad habits are such issues as smoking, over-eating, drinking, unregulated use of profanity, and a host of ills with which people struggle.

These are the activities that require a “reprogramming” of one’s mind in order to break the impulsive cyclonic practices.  This is necessary to essentially, free a person from the grips of repetition that bind him or her to bad conduct and undesirable behaviors. 

The mechanisms, however, aren’t easy to thwart as they become almost second nature to people who view the actions as a need and accept the habit as part of their character.  Self acceptance of any flaw poses a particular danger as it’s seen as normal which prompts one to automatically become defensive when approached about the issue.

Oddly enough, some habits are so much a part of a person’s chemical make-up that they don’t even realize it themselves.  They are in denial about the issue and utterly refuse to recognize any need for change.

Much like an alcoholic can’t be receptive to the concept of putting down the bottle until he or she is willing to admit having a drinking problem.  No way can a person “receive” a change or transformation of attitude as relative to bad habits without acceptance of the fact. 

The consequence of habit often explains one’s inability to follow through with adhering to the annual New Year’s resolution.  Everything from the quest to loose weight to curbing one’s appetite for anything else hinges on first being able to break the habit by which a person unwittingly becomes bound.  This begins with altering one’s way of thinking and is a matter of first overcoming the psychological road block hindering the needed change.

Some would say this is an extreme way of viewing minor issues but consider the number of people who resolve to make changes the first of each year but never follow through.  A greater majority of those who list annual declarations usually succumb to their old habits within just a few months.  As such, it’s not long before New Year’s resolutions are, again, excused away and differed to the next calendar change.  I could be wrong but it’s just something to consider.

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