Out with New Year's Resolutions: In with Lifestyle Changes

I'm not fond of New Year's resolutions. They are often short-lived and forgotten about just a few weeks after they were casually written down. I'd rather refer to my goals for the New Year as lifestyle changes. Putting it that way causes some of the fear of failure to dissipate and allows me to build on the changes I've already begun making in 2012. At 31 I'm learning that an accumulation of small steps leads to bigger and more consistent changes. Here are some of the lifestyle changes I plan to maintain for the New Year:

1. Incorporate two days of running each week to maintain my health and excitement for life...I've lost a total of 46 pounds this year making better choices in terms of what I put in my mouth and remaining active. An occasional dance night helps when I miss a workout session. I don't believe in any crazy diets, swearing off any particular item, or punishing myself in some way to fit into a particular dress size. Balance is key.

2. Read more books written by people who inspire me...I just finished Barack Obama's "Dreams from my Father." His life story taught me that sometimes those who don't have a particular group they belong to, are able to inspire people from a plethora of social and economic groups if they discover their heritage and who they are in relation to it.

3. Don't betray myself in service to others...I am learning that when I maintain appropriate boundaries with family, friends and acquaintances, I'm less likely to give to others what I know I need to give to myself first. I need to give myself time, patience to grow, constructive ways to express anger, sadness, pain. I have to listen first for God's voice and then my own before inviting others to share their desires for me. A grounded me is a more purposeful, loving and inspiring me in the world.

4. Maintain relationships that are circular: One of my girlfriends often says that the kind of relationship that we have is circular. The energy she pours into me, she gets back. I'm tired of being in a relationship with anyone who appears to care or love me only when it's convenient for them. Friendships aren't one-sided business relationships.

5. Stay away from hidden relationships: I'm done with any male relationship that includes my not eventually being introduced to his friends, family and anyone he considers a significant part of his life. I dated a guy in the past who rarely brought me around to his social circles. I later found out that he has a major part of his life that he keeps a secret from his family and coworkers. I felt like I wasted two years of my life pouring into him when he couldn't reciprocate my love because of his secrets.

6. Make no apologies for what I do and don't enjoy: I enjoy coloring and bought my own box of crayons a few months ago. Children have taught me how important it is to create with one's imagination. All work and no play makes Shola a dull and unhappy person. Playing may look different for you than it does for me. Diving into fashion design, poetry, making paper mache, and occasionally doing cartwheels with the children I work with, makes me feel alive. No more defending the whimsical artistic side of me to the world. Join in my play or leave me alone to enjoy and create beautiful things. The ugly things in the world will take over us if we don't balance them with beauty.

7. Acknowledge my powers in all situations: Living in Chicago has showed me that I have powers even in the most crazy or difficult situations. I have the power to try again when someone tells me "No." I have the power NOT to remain in a state of offense if someone does something I don't like. I have the power to make my dreams a reality. Focusing on my powers in a situation keeps me from feeling helpless and spiraling into self pity or what a dear friend calls, "your cry me a river moments." Moving forward in life for me now means focusing on the things I can change.

Reader, what lifestyle changes are you hoping to make in the New Year?

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    Shola

    Shola’s found her voice and is ready to share it with the world. There's no charge for her occasional Master’s level assessments of the dating scene in Chicago. Just be sure to share what you learn with someone else who’s in need of a good laugh. Shola’s not afraid to jump into a new adventure, armed with a bit of wisdom and a child-like heart. Join her on a blogging journey as she explores love, community and anything worth talking about.

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