Posted on: Friday, December 31, 2004

Five worthy resolutions

By Tanya Bricking Leach
Advertiser Relationships Writer

It's the last day of 2004, time for the dreaded "What's your New Year's resolution?" inquiry.

Set goals for the new year that are not only doable, but also make a difference.

John T. Valles The Honolulu Advertiser

To save you some time, we asked some Hawai'i people who are in a position to give good advice to come up with five worthy answers. The responses go beyond the same old thing you probably vowed to do last year.

Whatever you choose, you need to back it with a good implementation program, said Kent Keith, said the Honolulu-based author of the national bestseller, "Anyway" (formerly known as "The Paradoxical Commandments"), who last year pared away 65 pounds with the aid of Weight Watchers.

"Without a plan, it's just a nice intention and no more," he said. Just after Christmas 2003, Keith, who had grown a bit beefy, decided he'd had enough.

"I joined Weight Watchers, and what I liked about it was the structure" he said. "There was a weekly meeting where I had to go and there was a ... scale, and I was going to get on that scale and they were gonna know whether I lost weight or not."

Following Keith's "Paradoxical Commandments" a series of ideas that might be summarized as "do the right thing anyway" takes commitment.

TOP NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS

Losing weight is sure to top the list for most resolution makers, the Web site http://www.mygoals.com/ says. Here's how it predicts 2005 resolutions will stack up:

  1. Health and fitness
  2. Career
  3. Time management and organization
  4. Personal growth and interests
  5. Personal finance
  6. Family and relationships
  7. Education and training
  8. Home improvement and real estate
  9. Recreation and leisure

Source: http://www.mygoals.com/

One thing Keith heard from people who made that commitment is that every decision counts.

"It's not about waiting for the big climactic, focused moment of choice. It's a whole stream of decisions we make day after day," he said.

Making even small, right decisions such as bypassing a single piece of candy at the office, if weight loss is your goal builds confidence, he said. "By making better decisions, you build your own morale."

That leads to another key factor, in his experience: "You have to notice what you're focused on. If you're focused on applause and appreciation, it's not going to work.

"The people who are focused on the meaning and satisfaction they get out of doing the right thing start getting rewards right away. They know what they did and that's their reward right there."

So what kind of resolution would really be worthwhile? Here's what Hawai'i people told us:

1. Do one good thing each month for people in need in your community

Resolutions don't have to be all about you.

Maj. Preston Rider, of The Salvation Army Hawaiian and Pacific Islands Division, likes this resolution: "Do one good thing per month for people in need in my community."

Whether it's donating a car or giving to your food bank in the middle of July, there are hundreds of opportunities to make valuable contributions to people in your own neighborhood. The idea behind it is that changing lives can start small.

2. Find hurt and heal it

If you want to branch out beyond your own community, you can take an altruistic approach to the new year.

"Find hurt and heal it," said Gary Langley, senior pastor at Windward Worship Center.

Is the death toll from last week's devastating earthquake and tsunamis in southern Asia on your mind? Have you always wanted to volunteer for the Red Cross?

Do you just need to pay attention to your spirituality and the world beyond yourself?

Perhaps you should take this resolution to heart.

"You can't change the world," Langley said, "but you can change somebody's world."

3. Find satisfaction in your working life by balancing dreams and reality

What if your career is where your focus is right now? The new year could be about reflecting on your aspirations.

When she was 10, Julie Hernandez dreamed of coming to America. One day, she wanted to start her own business and be successful.

Hernandez, now 63, was trained as a minister, and she has devoted her life to helping people achieve what she has: career satisfaction.

She owns Community Counseling Resources, and every day, she talks to people about changing their careers by considering what they value in life.

The trick is finding your interest and how that meshes with the employment outlook, she said.

"It's a combination of your dream and reality," she said. "You may dream of becoming a doctor, but can you do it?"

Hernandez, a former school counselor, always thought her dream was within reach. She likes to inspire others to find the balance.

4. Take small steps to get healthy

For some people, a year can't go by without a resolution that has to do with losing weight and becoming healthy. But it can be so overwhelming.

How can you make it manageable? Break it down into things that are doable, suggests Jason Maxwell, assistant general manager at Gold's Gym in Kaka'ako.

Learn how to exercise and how to better proportion your meals, he said, and while you're at it, try something tangible:

"Increase your water intake," he said.

"Drink twice as much water as normal. You could lose 1 to 3 pounds over the course of a year."

Or maybe it's the health of your relationships that need a boost.

"People are always telling me they want their communication to be better," said Mitzi Gold, a psychologist and director of the Mars & Venus Counseling Center of Hawaii.

There are classes and workshops you can take to help you with that, she said, but the main idea is to take time to cultivate relationships and really connect with people instead of rushing through your day.

Improving the health of your relationships can go hand-in-hand with improving your body. When you go to that yoga class, take time to get to know the people you interact with, Gold suggests, instead of "just racing all over the place."

Taking small steps to slow down can really help you connect with people, she said.

5. Don't make a resolution; Make a commitment

Still not sure about this whole resolution thing? Fine, then. Maybe it would do you more good to meditate each morning and decide you intend to do that day.

Wally Amos, founder of Famous Amos cookies, doesn't make New Year's resolutions.

"I quit making them a long time ago," said Amos, a longtime Hawai'i resident (and a kazoo-playing author, entrepreneur and motivational speaker).

Instead, Amos had something of a spiritual awakening.

He remembers being struck by an interview in which actor Richard Gere talked about befriending the Dalai Lama and how Gere thought the Nobel Peace Prize winner would have great insight about how to live.

The Tibetan Buddhist's leader's great insight? He gets up every morning and meditates, decides what his intention is for the day, and he lives that.

Amos liked that idea and adopted it.

"When people make resolutions, they take it so lightly," he said. "I think commitments are stronger."

Instead of making yearly resolutions that don't mean anything, he makes daily commitments. He always strives to be loving and peaceful, but some days, he takes extra effort to be humble or to accomplish whatever it is he intends to do that day.

So, ponder that for 2005. What could be more worthwhile than living your life with purpose?

Advertiser staff writer Wanda A. Adams contributed to this article. Tanya Bricking Leach writes about relationships. Reach her at tleach@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8026.


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