Instead of New Year’s Resolutions, Make Commitments, Says a Cancer Survivor

A cancer survivor explains her approach to New Year’s resolutions and how she plans to make her health a priority.

The New Year is here, and many people are making resolutions. It seems it’s the thing to do since we’ve all been handed a proverbial “clean slate,” but where do we begin?

A New Year brings the hope of a better tomorrow. Often, people make resolutions with good intentions but find themselves failing. What would happen if we changed the word resolutions to commitments? Would we be more likely to succeed? This survivor seems to think so.

At the beginning of the year, I tend to feel extremely motivated. The Christmas decorations are put away and it feels like I have been given a fresh start. Usually, I sit down and think about things I’d like to accomplish. Sometimes, I write down goals hoping to see them come to fruition, but nine times out of 10, my resolutions don’t come to pass.

By the end of the year, I’ve lost steam. My get up and go has gone. I’ve lost motivation and the plans have failed. Those good intentions weren’t good enough. I always wondered why that happened to be the case and after consulting Merriam Webster’s online dictionary, I had a better view.

The dictionary defines a resolution as the act or process of resolving. A commitment, on the other hand, is defined as a promise to do or give something. A resolution may help a person plan a course of action to accomplish a goal, but it doesn’t do anything to help with the obligation to fulfill it. When a person makes a commitment, credibility is on the line.

Maybe that was what was missing from my resolutions each year. There were no real consequences to my actions. If I failed, I failed. If my goals weren’t met, they didn’t affect anyone but me. Perhaps if I really committed to the goals; I’d succeed.

With that in mind, I decided to make myself a priority this year, especially regarding my health. I promised to set fewer goals and stick to them with a vengeance. I decided the commitment and I would be similar to Velcro. I’d be the smooth side and my goal would be the side with the bristly barbs. Together, we’d mesh, if I managed to keep my promises.

So I made my list and made it small. After writing down my goals for the year, I felt good. My chances at success were excellent because I decided to focus solely on my health.

Consulting a health website, I found a list of recommended health screenings for women my age. I made a list of the ones I felt most important then pulled out my phone and a calendar. One by one, I called and scheduled tests over the course of the year. I did my best to spread them out so they wouldn’t interfere with vacations and other events I was looking forward to attending.

For those living with cancer or thriving post-cancer, it’s extremely important to consider making health a priority. During the active phase of cancer, patients don’t usually think a lot about their health. They know they’re being closely watched by physicians. As time progresses and medical visits become less frequent, the patient realizes the onus of health care has shifted. They find it falling upon their own shoulders. Routine tests like annual physicals, mammograms, eye exams, dental exams, colonoscopies, etc. can slip through the cracks if not prioritized and scheduled. Those routine tests are important and can help prevent future problems.

Along with routine health care, there are many important self-care items that should be considered for a healthier New Year:

  • Minimizing stress: reduce time on social media, focus more on reading or listening to music and remove toxic people from your life.
  • Spending more time outdoors or traveling
  • Visit family and friends, if possible, be sure to consider health risks especially regarding COVID-19
  • Make healthy dietary changes, lose weight and exercise
  • Working on good sleep habits
  • Focus on things that bring you joy

The more ways a person can commit to improving health, the better the chances at longer life.

So many things demand our attention each day, why not commit to move yourself to the top of the priority list like I did? You deserve to do whatever possible to achieve the very best health. No one knows what the future holds, but we can work daily to ensure our chance at seeing it.

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