Sprinter, Not Marathoner

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I always make new years resolutions but then feel silly when I a few
weeks later I am no longer going to the gym four days a week, eating
fewer sweets, etc. Can you give me a better way of improving my life?
One that will last past January 31, please.

Sprinter, Not Marathoner

Dear Sprinter/Marathoner:

Not to change sporting metaphors too much, but in games like golf,
baseball, and table tennis, the advice is often “keep your eye on the
ball.” That’s my basic advice to you. Figure out how to keep yourself
focused on both short-run actions and long run objectives in several
key areas of your life: career, relationships, health, and soul.


Career: Do some very simple and tangible things in your office. Start
by cleaning your desk. . It may sound simple but it will force you to
get a handle on where you&'ve been. Fruitcake stupor or too much
shopping, December takes its toll. Rather than feeling like you&'ve been
dumped onto concrete, take some control of your re-entry. Buried
under the seasons greetings and the cookie crumbs are important
things you need to remember, things that other people, the people
who pay your paycheck, expect you to do. Clean through email,
assemble files, make stacks, make lists, remember what&'s due this
month. Get out your calendar and set priorities for the next few
weeks. Once you’re back in the saddle, you&'ll start to feel better.
Update your resume. Think about how other people see you: your
resume is the two-dimensional window they look through. It&'s a
reminder of what you’ve done in your current job, what you&'re good at
that you, your employer, and any prospective new employer should
value, and what you&'d have to sell on the job market if something pink
appears with your paycheck. Update your accomplishments, list new
skills and current references who&'ll sing your praises. This will boost
your confidence for the here and now as well as for the future
possible. It&'ll help you be ready to apply for internal promotions as well
as identify areas in which you should seek additional experience or

Relationships: Do for others. Not much in life beats feeling like
you&'ve helped. Acts of kindness and usefulness enhance any day.
They&'ll make you feel good as well as productive. If you have a chance
to help a friend or family member, take it. Don&'t worry about getting
credit for what you do, or the time it takes from your own projects.
You&'ll be more efficient with those commitments later. Think “pay it
forward,” “do unto others,” and all the other platitudes that, like your
resolutions, you may have let slide. Also, let others do for you.
When you&'re offered helping hands, take them, assuming they&'re
competent and caring about your welfare. As good as helping makes
you feel, it feels as good to others. There are times when you simply
cannot get everything done that you need to if you try to do it on your
own. That goes from yard work or deck building to cleaning out the
garage. Consider organizing monthly neighborhood work parties to
lighten everyone’s load. Ask for help when you need it, and take it
when it&'s offered. Say thank you graciously, and maybe even with


Health: I can’t say it any better than my mother or your doctor. Eat
less and move more. Find a form of exercise you are passionate about,
something you look forward to rather than dread. As a born-again
table-tennis player I can recommend it for aerobics, bending, and
feeling like a kid again. Look for a team sport or get a wii-like device.
But focus on playing not counting reps. Find a food program you
genuinely enjoy, or change it every month. But understand what your
body is asking for: smaller quantities of healthy nutrients. You don’t
have to forsake all things sweet and caloric. But balance them with
savory and fresh fruit. Retrain your taste buds about flavor and your
gut about quantity. Find a favorite outfit that’s too a half size too small
and try it on weekly. Repeat until it fits; then decide if you want to
keep losing.


Spiritual/Emotional life: Give yourself the best gift of all, the gift of
time. For at least 30 minutes a day, let yourself do whatever you most
want in that moment, without guilt. Pick up your book or pet the cat.
Let your blood pressure drop and remember how to relax. Make time
to breath fresh air, to look at the moon, to watch grass grow. Taking
good care of your heart and soul will boost your resilience and your
immune system. The glow will show and people will be more drawn to
you. The more often you choose to be happy, the more likely you will
be. Make yourself a priority this year by lightening up. Sing in the
shower or the car. Let yourself indulge in people and experiences. Play
more. Learn something new or practice something old. Whatever
makes you feel like you&'re having fun, give yourself a little more of it
each week. You&'ve earned it.