Recipe for a successful year

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On Jan. 1, with snow crunching underfoot, my neighbor caught up to me on my morning walk. Between breaths of cold-sharpened air, we applauded the fact we weren’t hung over or sleep deprived. But when he asked what my New Year’s resolution was, I responded, “Resolutions? Never. Too debilitating when they don’t work out.”

“Not me. This is the year I will remarry,” he stated.

I wanted to inform him the odds are in favor of failed resolutions — people often erroneously announce an ambitious goal rather than incorporate small, step-by-step, behavior-changing actions. Yet, because my neighbor was the one who simply decided a year ago to quit drinking and succeeded, I refrained.

“So, any new girlfriends?” I asked. (We both are divorcees and like to discuss our dating scenes).

“I’ve recently met this woman and she’s the one!” he exclaimed. Then he added that though she’s not sure she wants to be in a relationship, but he’s still going to tell her about his goal. “How about you?” he asked.

“I’m becoming the person I want to meet,” I said.

“But ... are you dating anyone?”

“Not really, however, don’t worry, like attracts like. All I need to do is work on my ingredients of self-improvement knowing the right person is just around the corner.”

Before I could explain, his phone rang. “Sounds like fear-of-failure to me,” he said. Then he winked and waved me on, adding, “Email me your recipe.”

That evening, sipping from a glass of juiced greens, I typed up an email with my favorite experts’ advice:

1/2 ton willpower. Our daily reservoir of willpower is finite. To stay motivated, new behaviors must become automatic. (99U’s “Maximize Your Potential” by Behance).

3 cups self-compassion. Let go of perfectionism’s straight-jacket and flourish! (“Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself” by Kristin Neff, PhD).

5 ounces new self-belief. Your unconscious mind is in the driver seat — you can only change what beliefs you are aware of. (“Become What You Believe: A 21-day Meditation Experience” by Oprah Winfrey and Deepak Chopra).

1 teaspoon sweet treat. Unlike a reward which can be dangerous because it must be earned and justified, healthy treats — an indulgence just because we want it — play a key role in creating new habits. (“Better Than Before” by Gretchen Rubin).

A pinch “I don’t care.” Taking ourselves too seriously has its pitfalls. When you are in the flow of life, self-consciousness disappears. (“Flow” by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi).

10 handfuls of worthiness. Vulnerability — when we risk showing up and being seen — is the best antidote to our debilitating shame. (“Rising Strong” by Brene Brown).

2 pounds meditative movement. Anyone can experience greater vitality no matter your age or condition. (“Move Into Life” by Anat Baniel).

1 gallon growth mind-set. Don’t see yourself as failing, see yourself as learning. (“Mindset: The New Psychology of Success” by Carol Dweck).

13 seconds of neuroscience. To turn “states” into “traits,” a positive experience must be installed in the brain through a conscious experiential practice that’s at least 13 seconds long. (“Foundations of Well Being,” a one-year online program by Rick Hanson, PhD).

Feeling happily nourished, I confidently hit the email’s “send” button; however, it quickly bounced back.

So yesterday on my walk when I saw his car coming toward me, I waved him down.

“Meet Julie, my fiancé!” he said, holding her hand and beaming. We quickly chatted and when they drove off I realized, though I really didn’t mind being alone, I was missing one key ingredient: add equal parts of a clearly stated goal.

Kathy Walters is the mother of a teenage boy, works for Kirkwood Mountain Realty and lives in Gardnerville. Currently, she is working on her memoir “Enough.”


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