I have not made any New Year’s resolutions. I know what I ought to and need to do, but if it comes to pass, it will be by quietly making good choices consistently until the results appear.
The key word here is “consistently.” To break an old habit or acquire a new one requires commitment. Commitment requires love, for oneself first, in order to retain the most precious and personal component of mental and emotional health: self-respect.
Commitment may then include love for another person or cause. It may include a contract, a pact, or a competition. Sometimes this works better because we don’t have to do it alone.
The ultimate catalyst for change is often negative: disgust or fear. We become disgusted with some condition in our lives and decide that we cannot live with it any longer. Or we may be told (by a doctor) that we will not live at all if we do not change one or more habits.
Some people need to tell everyone they know about their resolve to change, for the social support and policing, if necessary. These people also know they can count on forgiveness if they should lapse, because they have given support to all these others in the past.
But for some, the power comes from keeping their effort secret. They do not talk about it, they do not ask for help (unless it is for necessary advice), and they do not boast of their success. Instead, with a smile, they acknowledge that the change has occurred when people begin to notice. This is the kind of commitment that is most likely to succeed in a lasting change. It builds strength day by day to maintain one’s new self-image until s/he no longer identifies with the image of the past.