Thursday, December 30, 2010

How do you measure up?

by Richard L. Weaver II

I have discovered a brilliant way to begin the New Year.  This does not include the traditional celebration, gorging on food that you will have to work hard to remove from your waistline, clinking glasses of champagne at midnight, or even partying with friends.  My way to begin the New Year has the potential of making you very happy or very sad.

Here it is in a nutshell.  I am going to give you the top ten most often used New Year’s resolutions.  All you must do is assess your personal status on each one.  That is, if it is one that you KNOW you need to work on, give yourself ten points.  That’s all there is to it.  

Here, then are the top ten New Year’s resolutions:
        1.    I need to spend more time with family and friends.
        2.    I need to engage in a regular program of exercise.
        3.    I need to lose some weight.
        4.    I need to quit smoking.
        5.    I need to enjoy life more.
        6.     I need to seriously cut back on my drinking.
        7.    I need to get out of debt.
        8.    I need to learn something new.
        9.    I need to help others.
      10.    I need to get organized.

There are obviously many other possibilities like: I need to take better care of myself, I need to stick to a budget, I need to find a soul mate, or I need to find a better job.  But, for the purposes of this essay, let’s just stick to those numbered above.

Did you give yourself ten points for each one of the ten that applies to yourself?  That is, ones that would make a difference right now in your life?  Okay, add those together and subtract from 100.  Now you can see how your quality of life measures up on the scale below:
        90-100    =    A    One or zero applies right now.
        80           =    B    Two apply right now.
        70           =    C    Three apply right now.
        60           =    D    Four apply right now.
        0-50        =     F    Five or more apply right now.

How do you measure up?  As I said in the first paragraph, this could be a rewarding exercise, or it could be completely frustrating.  When I originally thought of this, I rated myself on the top ten resolutions, and I came out with a 90.  Had it been a disaster for me, I probably wouldn’t have suggested doing it at all!  ( :-) - smiley face emoticon needed here!)

As you might imagine, there are hundreds (probably more like thousands) of websites that not only list New Year’s Resolutions, but give advice as to how to accomplish what you plan to do.  One website makes it very clear that most resolutions are broken within 48 hours of when they are made.  That can be easily explained by talking about laziness, habits, and comfort zones — but everyone already knows this.  Changing any of the ten areas where you realize you could use some change requires huge amounts of planning, persistence, and patience, not to speak of time and effort.  Most people just say to hell with it and live their lives the same way they have been living it.

How did I pull a score of 90 on the exercise?  It is quite simple actually.  I already spend a great deal of time with family and friends, I engage in a rigorous and regular exercise program (have for nearly 40 years), I do not need to lose weight (I weigh just 10-15 pounds more than when I graduated from college), I do not smoke, I really enjoy all aspects of life (and write about them often), I do not drink (except, perhaps, for one beer a day for my health), I am not in debt (have no outstanding debts of any kind), I am constantly engaged in learning new things (I read often, and widely), and I am about as organized as I need to be to accomplish what I need to do.  Some might even label me excessively (ridiculously, unreasonably, impossibly!) organized.

Notice in this list that I left out one item: number nine.  “I need to help others.”  I have always felt that I help others through my writing.  If you have read my book, You Rules, or my books Public Speaking Rules, Relationship Rules, or even SMOERs, you might come to the same conclusion.  Writing takes an enormous amount of time, and I feel my contribution through writing is significant.  Writing is more than a full-time occupation!

Also, as most of you know, I have written a textbook (actually a large number of them) that is now going into its tenth edition (Communicating Effectively, 2009, McGraw-Hill), and, once again, I feel that this makes a worthwhile contribution to helping others.

These are not excuses, however.  I realize there is a profit motive behind much of my writing, and there is no doubt about it.  I could not continue writing actively is there were not some remuneration involved.  But, that is why I gave myself ten points for number nine: “I need to help others.”  I could be much better, and I could do much better in this area.  Because of my active and persistent involvement in writing, I have never made this a resolution because I always feared I could not do it (right now).  

I have delivered hot meals to shut-ins, I have given extensively to church causes, and I make regular contributions to our church — all in the spirit of helping others.  But, there is no doubt about it, I could do much more.  I'll take a minus ten on this item.
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Psych Central has a wonderful website.  It includes an essay, “New Year’s Resolutions: Role-Modeling the ‘How’ of Making Change,” by Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker.  The beauty of what she says in her essay is something many people forget — how you can use making and achieving resolutions a family learning experience.  Great essay here!

The Washington University School of Medicine: Environmental Health and Safety website, includes an essay on “Health & Safety Topic of the Month” for January, 2002, entitled, “Keeping your New Year’s resolutions.”  This essay has excellent, well-researched tips, for making and keeping resolutions.  Valuable information here.
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Copyright December, 2010, by And Then Some Publishing, L.L.C.

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