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Home  > Family >  Balance

Don't Just Resolve — Solve!
by Shirleen Holt

This much we know: New Year's resolutions don't work. They're the boss, Dad with a paddle, the date you never called back. Our resolve melts after about the fifth night of steamed vegetables when we think: You know, broccoli tastes better with a little butter on it ...

Stopped at the crossroads? Let our road map show you the way...

If we're self aware, we also know the perverse logic at work: If we shed those pounds, we'll feel uncomfortably attractive. If we get rich, we'll become part of a class we despise. If we choose a mate who loves and honors us, well she can't be that bright.

What we don't know, however, is how to change.

So we asked some experts — those who have changed for the better — how they finally crossed that gulf between wanting and doing. The answers are as varied as the subjects themselves, but the common themes are instructive to anyone who wants to change for good:

They find their Achilles' heel. A few years ago contributor Kathy Watson, whose high-powered career had her dining with governors and counseling CEOs, made a startling confession: She wanted to chuck it all and live in a small town. As she relates in "Leave Your Job, Find Yourself," she achieved happiness when she stopped trying to achieve.

In "Love the One You're With," Paul Wolf examines why the qualities we loved in our fiancι we loathe in our spouse. Therapists offer some insight and advice on breaking the "I married Mom" pattern.

They create new beliefs. Wanting something, says one pundit, is not the same as believing it. And as universal laws go, the latter holds the power. So Jennifer Strailey discovered when she talked to a woman who ended a lifelong battle with weight "My Hot Bod" by embracing the enemy.

They withhold judgment. It's hard if not impossible to improve if you're concentrating on what's wrong, say Benjamin Zander and Rosamund Stone Zander, authors of The Art of Possibility, an unusual self-help book published by Harvard Business School. Barbara Quick figures the Zanders' philosophy of joyful learning is a good tool for parents whose focus is "on limits, danger and scarcity."

They create new pleasures. This is a familiar if underused tenet of self-improvement: You don't have to give up what you love, you simply have to change what it is you love. As Paul Wolf found in "Old Habits Die Hard," it's still a powerful method for lasting change.

They just do it. While some grand plans fail on execution, all plans fail without it. Action — the physical affirmation that you're serious — is the most potent catalyst for change. Although Stu Watson examines why just doing it is the only sure way to get past a fitness block "Mind Over Fatter", the principle applies to just about anything.

Broke and unknown, Jim Carrey once wrote himself a $10 million check — which he made good on with "The Mask." A millionaire several times over, Ted Turner still longed for legitimacy when he hung an empty frame on his wall. "What's that for?" a visitor asked. "That's for when I'm named Time's Man of the Year." In 1991, he filled that frame.

Related Stories
• Become The Catalyst
• The Things You Can't Change
• Confronting the Fear of Change
• Three Ways to Get Positive
• Living From the Inside Out

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Related Stories
• Become The Catalyst
• The Things You Can't Change
• Confronting the Fear of Change
• Three Ways to Get Positive
• Living From the Inside Out

Related Books
• The Art of Possibility, Rosamund Stone Zander, Benjamin Zander
• Imago Relationship Therapy, Rick Brown

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