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New Year absolutions


By Dr. Jun Ynares, M.D.

Dr. Jun Ynares, M.D.

Dr. Jun Ynares, M.D.

 Dr. Jun Ynares, M.D.

“So, what’s your New Year resolutions?”

That was the question my wife asked me on the morning of January 1st. I guess that is a standard question husbands hear on the day following the New Year’s Eve revelry. Maybe, our wives think it is best to start the year with a clear direction, and I could not agree more.

“None,” was my unexpected answer.

I saw the surprised look on my wife’s face. Perhaps, she was expecting me to make the enumeration of the usual resolutions we love to set at the start of the year: losing the unwanted pounds; eating healthier; exercising more; making the difficult promise that we will control our temper.

“I don’t get it,” she replied, still with the puzzled look.

I attempted to explain.

I said I did not want to begin the New Year with “resolutions.” I wanted to start 2018 differently.

“I want to begin the year with New Year absolutions,” I said.

“Absolve before resolve,” I added, hoping to make my point clear.

My view is that beginning with “resolutions” is not bad, but there’s a better way to do things. New Year “resolutions” has a rather negative reference – it begins with the assumption that there are things wrong with you which you need to repair. This approach feeds the sense of unfounded and unnecessary guilt and makes us look at ourselves as damaged individuals.

Then, we promise to try again and then we fail again. We examine the weakness once more, look at ways to solve it and repeat the promise for the next many years.

I decided I will begin with “absolutions” instead of “resolutions.”

By new year “absolutions,” I mean forgiving myself for my failures during the past year. By “forgiving” I mean recognizing the fact that there are goals I failed to meet, admitting that I am responsible for such failure, and that I accept and embrace the consequences.

The final step in that internal process is to say, “I will no longer count these failures against myself.” Yes, I am releasing myself from the guilt that failure fuels.

The process is good. It clears both the mind and the heart. The absolution allows for a good way forward.

The next step is to set an ideal. I visualize the version of me I would like to bring out during the year. It could be as vain as a becoming the “slimmer” version of me, or as noble as bringing out the “more loving me.” Regardless, the next step is the picture an ideal.

Then, I break up the “ideal” into reasonable and manageable goals – goals that can be measured. For example, if my “ideal” is a “slimmer” me, then the reasonable and manageable goal would be “weight loss measured in terms of number of pounds lost per month” or “reduction in weight measured by number of pounds lost by December 15, 2018.”

The “goal” is followed by setting a “reference point.” This is where I am today. Again, if the goal is “pounds lost,” “reference point” would be “current weight.”

Next step: “options.” This refers to a menu of actions I can take to achieve the goal set for the year. It is good to begin with a list of available options before settling for some. For example, among my options could be enrolling at a gym, setting aside time for brisk walking, taking up running, adopting a diet program, among others.

Finally, it is time to choose the best option, and commit on the next steps. I call this my “way forward.”

Ideal. Goal. Reference Point. Options. Way forward.

To remember this process, I keep in mind the first letters of each word and which spell “I GROW.”

I guess, each New Year is an opportunity to “grow.” To grow as a person. To bring out the better version of who we are.

The process begins with letting go of the past. By absolving ourselves from our failures in the year we left behind.

I wish all our readers a blessed year filled with many meaningful opportunities to grow.

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