January is always a perfect time to consider change. Now –clean slate in hand– finding ourselves much more open-minded to the passing opportunity of general self-improvement, we can once again acknowledge both just how quickly a year can pass and how little we have to show for choices productive or otherwise in retrospect. It’s not until we are faced by a tangible indication; +10 lbs on the scale; -£10 on a bank statement, do we then wonder where things went downhill and reassess the collective contribution to such a point in time rather than just one big lapse of judgement. The first ‘S’ in setting up for success would be the realisation of what aspects of your ‘downtime’ can be considered absolutely necessary in order to plough through monotony. The potential ‘Sacrifice’ should concern that which may be reassessed as excessive, weighing no positive bearing on your quality of life and quite possibly making it unnecessarily problematic. While this may sound like a contradiction in the sense of suggesting a lifestyle change, whereby an entity offering enjoyment is potentially reduced or replaced, the key lies within volume, moderation and managing future dependancy. Volume in that a particular planned amount of X or Y is adhered to more rigorously, whilst being able to justify said amounts across a specified time frame i.e hourly alcohol consumption, daily caloric goal or total weekly amount spent gambling. Moderation in that a week of excess should be followed by at least two weeks of rest –and digest– reiterating the value of enjoyment without a habitual downward spiral to ill-health. Finally, managing future dependancy; being aware of that which is conducive to become habitual, watching the football at home every other week to cut out a day of drinking, eating a piece of fruit instead of drinking a coffee, avoiding certain places or groups of people likely to corrupt your good intentions –yeah thats a hard one–<<
These cover an array of potentially addictive aspects of ones particular lifestyle; from a single habit considered immediately harmful; smoking, to that which can arguably bring both happiness and malcontent in excess, chocolate. So lets take an average day of both working and sleeping for 8 hours, the remaining 8 being the void between work and pleasure; what makes the previous and following day bearable? Is said downtime condensed into the 48 hours of the weekend? Does a 2 day binge come with the cost of another two days? Ultimately, we are told that everything is potentially harmful in some way shape or form; pollutants in the air, chemicals in our water and now light of unsavoury hormones in the milk that we pour on our Corn Flakes. One may drink whisky, eat red meat and live till the next century whilst another may exercise everyday, avoid gluten, not see their 40’s and vice versa. So where does this leave us in retrospect? Cut out the things we enjoy just to warrant a comfy bed and 4 walls of a retirement home or excessively indulge on the things we would take for granted in years to come just to say that we had ‘lived’?
SACRIFICE- to give up (something valued) for the sake of other considerations.
As we find ourselves in the middle of ‘Dry Jan’ –using alcohol as an example– one may attribute abstinence positively –money saved, energy and health replenished– or negatively –overwhelming boredom and the chronic ‘fear of staying in’– presenting us all with our own realisation of either an urge or now dissonance to our potential vices, one which has taken the turn of a New Year to illuminate. As we have previously mentioned the collective contribution of choices as opposed to a single lapse of judgement, it can be said that both structure and habit are genetically linked in their nature to either assist or pollute our routine. That being said, would it be better then to systematically structure inevitable vices and habits into our routine if they cannot be completely removed initially? Focusing solely on the point to which downtime becomes excessive and ‘benefit’ becomes hindrance. I myself have came to realise that as long as you can make a sufficient contribution to change and self-improvement overall, a systematic application of that which may not be considered constructive, on the odd day, wont be enough to hinder your new positive direction. An example of this could be an attempt to exercise in advance to an inevitable session, planning to be active and outdoors on a hungover day, rather than channelling the sloth.
Being aware of justifying aforementioned choices, making conscious decisions to reduce or remove excessive vices and habits completely, is something that does take time. If we look back 12 months are we sitting in the same position, with the same goals and same barriers distorting our view? In another year could we be potentially closer? Highlighting the problem and making those sacrifices which may not provide us with a somewhat immediate alleviator of stress or a proponent of enjoyment, but may collectively contribute to a better quality of life beyond situational and temporary satisfaction.