Here it is, the second week of 2011, and I bet half of you have already cheated on one of your New Year’s “resolutions,” or have simply given up altogether! I hope not – I hope all of us have started the new year holding firm with our personal resolutions, whether they’re to lose weight and get physically fit, stop smoking, spend more time with our children, or to get that promotion this year. We all have goals, right? They’re the little engines that drive us to accomplish things in our lives. And because January 1st is an easy and defining starting point, we like to use it as the “first step” to change ourselves for what we believe will be the better. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But it begs the question: Are New Year’s resolutions really necessary? The problem is most of us don’t keep ’em. Does that mean we’re failures? Are we placing too much pressure on ourselves…or perhaps not enough? These are great questions without any definite answers, of course. But perhaps my personal experience from last year will help you determine what’s really important in life, what isn’t, and how staying focused on attaining your goals – whatever they may be – may lead to unexpected treasures.
On January 29th of 2010, I was driving home after a long day at the office. As I sped down Railroad Canyon in my Porsche 911, I turned the corner, my tire grabbed the curb of a center divider, and I spun into a nosedive, between two boulders, into the center divider. My New Year’s resolutions had been to slow down, join the gym, and lose some weight. Well, so far, I had only accomplished one – join the gym. I think I had gone just three times since I joined in December. Now, here I was really blowing the “slow down” resolution!
That accident was a New Year’s wake up call for me. During the weeks to follow, in a long painful process, the insurance adjuster informed me that my car was irreparable. I was on medical leave from my job (due to a shoulder injury) and had been laid off. I discovered how quickly life can speed past you and eventually crash! I loved that car and it was gone. You often don’t realize how valuable something is until it has left your life. As for the job being gone, that was a blessing but I didn’t know it at the time. I knew I had to make my resolutions work somehow. It was time to regain control of my life.
I decided to go to the gym. I picked one of the best ones in the area, NC3 Sportclub in Murrieta. I went from 0-1 days per week to 5-6 days immediately. A combination of things happened shortly after I began using my gym membership. Everyone there was so welcoming! I discovered Spinning and it became my “dim lit alternative” to a nightclub. After Spinning for a few months I began to meet the girls in my class. Eventually, I suggested that we all go out for a “Girls Night Out.” The idea became an instant hit and we found ourselves meeting once a week at various “night out” venues and having lunch with each other after our workouts.
As the months went by I saw a change in myself. I began to lose weight. My shoulder got better. I realized I didn’t care that I was unemployed. I got out of the rat race and became a gym rat. I formed a strong bond with a group of girls at the gym. I started eating healthier and even joined the Inland Empire CSA so I could start trying new healthy recipes. I joined Taste of Temecula at various lunch meet-ups. Basically, I discovered how to slow down and enjoy my life. In the process I made some lifelong friends.
Do we need a new year to create change in our life? New Year’s “resolutions” are really a chance to reflect on the past year and move into a hopeful, better future. By definition, a New Year’s resolution is “a commitment that an individual makes to a project or the reforming of a habit, often a lifestyle change that is generally interpreted as advantageous.” It is considered a time to start fresh and make changes (although this can be done any time). In my case, the first real change I made was deciding to use my gym membership. Sometimes life is like a domino effect. We make a small change and voilà! – everything else falls into place.
What can you do to make your New Year’s resolution a success? It’s important to set a clear, realistic plan and follow through with it. Understand that sometimes it takes time and patience to achieve your goals. Sometimes we hit a bump in the road, but we may wind up learning something from our hazards.
So, should we all have a New Year’s resolution? I almost didn’t get the chance to find out. Call it a New Year’s “resolution,” if you must, but take a good look at the past year and decide if you need to slow down. Think of ways to improve your life. Change can come at any point in your life. It doesn’t necessarily have to be January 1st. As for me, I feel like a real life Carrie Bradshaw! Here I am writing for Taste of Temecula and enjoying my close group of girlfriends. I have already created so many memories with friends that will last far longer than any car. My life has definitely improved over the past year and it didn’t happen by accident.
No matter what time of the year, we need to remember that “life is not a race.” Sometimes we need to “take time to smell the roses.” And my favorite – “friendships are priceless.”