Tips for achieving personal success in 2007

Chief Master Sgt. Dave Spector
435th Air Base Wing Command Chief

***image1***In the next three weeks or so, most of us will venture down a well-traveled path paved with bold and sometimes hastily conceived New Year’s resolutions. It is a route constructed with promises to exercise more, lose weight, stop smoking, cut down on alcohol, eat a healthier diet and make new friends.

Turning over a new leaf, resolving to do better – our New Year’s resolutions are a time-honored tradition. The new year brings with it hope and a desire to start anew.

In a recent CNN poll, Americans’ top New Year’s resolutions included a desire to lose weight, stop smoking, exercise more and save more money.

So what will you do? Are you setting your sights on achieving one or several of the top New Year’s resolutions listed above? Will you make your resolutions last?

As Jan. 1 approaches I try to think about what’s realistic, achievable and possible in the coming year while also planning ahead with long-term resolutions. Interestingly, the word “resolution” is tied to this New Year tradition instead of the word “goal,” but in my book they mean the same thing. Some years I’ve been more successful than in other years in keeping my resolutions, and I want to share a few tips I’ve used to stay focused on my goals.

1. Write down your resolutions, think about them for a day and revise them to make sure they’re realistic.
2. Share your goals with someone who cares about you and supports you. It’s harder to slip away from your goals if someone else is watching.
3. Ensure your goals are realistic. Running in the New York Marathon in 2007 might not be realistic if you have yet to complete the entire wing run without stopping.
4. I also use the Air Force’s model of the “Four Dimensions of Human Wellness” to keep me grounded and focused. The dimensions (see graphic) are depicted as aircraft tie downs.
The four tie downs – physical, emotional, social and spiritual – are easy to remember, and if you look at the list closely you’ll be able to associate your resolutions into all four of the wellness dimensions.
Physical wellness suggests we should analyze our current exercise routine, tobacco and alcohol use along with fitness and weight standards. If we want a healthy body, we have to eat and drink sensibly, and exercise regularly. It’s that simple.

Social wellness suggests working on relationships and friendships. How is your relationship with your significant other? When is the last time you called your parents just to tell them you loved them? Social wellness also affords us the opportunity to network in the community – whether in the dorms, in your workplace or off base in the local community. Finally, this tie down affects other less tangible portions of our well-being like our financial and legal relationships as they relate to social acceptance.

Emotional wellness addresses issues like a member’s self esteem as well as current stress levels. As the New Year begins, are you content with your stress coping skills? Are you happy most of the time, or intense, depressed or angry? How about your level of patience with others? In other words, how is your attitude?

Spiritual wellness is a very personal area encompassing not only religious beliefs, but also our sense of connection to the world we live in. Important aspects such as feeling part of something larger than ourselves and how we contribute to the greater good are also part of this tie down and domain. Some people meet their spiritual needs by attending church while others meet their spiritual needs through alternate means. Speaking from experience and observations over many years, spiritual wellness is directly responsible for helping most people improve themselves.

President Abraham Lincoln, one of America’s most esteemed commanders-in-chief, once said, “Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other one thing.”

So as you embark on your New Year’s resolutions in a few weeks, remember to write them down, share them with someone you trust and ensure they’re realistic and achievable. Finally, keep the picture of this C-130 anchored by the four dimensions of human wellness in your mind and use it as a roadmap to keep you focused on your goals. If you follow this strategy, you will surpass the majority of people who abandon their New Year’s resolutions by February. Good luck and have a great New Year.