Ah, mid-January: the time at which most of us have lost the resolve of sticking to those New Year’s resolutions we set forth just half a month ago. So how are you doing on yours? Did you quit after the first day? (Did you even make one to begin with?)
I made some resolutions myself at the beginning of the year. So far I’m doing pretty well on the first one, keeping my whiskers clean. But I’ve got a few ratty pounds I’d like to lose, and despite taking several healthy strolls through the sewer with my fitness-crazed rat friend Slim and restricting myself to low-fat gruyere and part-skim mozzarella during mealtimes, I think the influences of my other comrat, the quite corpulent Gus, have knocked me off the hamster wheel of success. Indeed, as I glance at my sleek physique in the mirror, I see myself weighing the same amount as I weighed at the start of the month. (Should I blame this on the fact that I’m made of rubber and so am stuck with the parameters the people at the rubber-rat-making factory gave me in the first place? Or should I hunker down and stop making excuses?)
So while I try to renew my commitments to those weight-loss resolutions I made a few short weeks ago and look to Hickory Dickory Dock, the mouse who ran up and down the clock, for inspiration, I encourage you to do the same. Here are some tips to sticking to your New Year’s resolutions:
- First, be specific. For example, say “I’m going to shed five pounds off my fur by April 1st” rather than “I want to lose weight.” Or if you aspire to learn something new (this is a popular resolution), don’t just squeak about it vaguely and treat it as if it’s an ethereal haze; go do it. For example, read a book. The best way to start: actually go to the library – today – and get a library card! Then set a specific goal: resolve to read one book every two weeks. (My personal recently discovered favorite is How to Avoid Mousetraps.)
- Second, set reasonable goals. If you set out to run an hour on the hamster wheel three times a day, every day of the week, but that wheel’s been sitting in the corner of your burrow for so long that it’s acquired an inch of dust and has become the collection spot for all of your dirty nestlet fodder, odds are you’ll scuttle to a stop before you start. Try instead to first clean off the wheel, and then praise yourself for doing at least that. After this, get some WD-40 on the hinges so you don’t squeak loud enough to wake the neighbors. Praise yourself again, and then work towards the goals you set forth in the “be specific” section.
- Third, avoid temptation. For example, if you resolve to quit smoking, refrain from snuffling around the dumpsters of mesquite-fired barbeque pit-masters’ restaurants.
- Fourth, reward yourself, but with something other than your vice. For me, that means springing for a new whisker trimmer rather than indulging in the whole-milk Parmesan I’d rather be eating. The key to this one is to make your actual reward just as appealing as your alternatively desired reward: though I do love the full-octane cheese, I equally enjoy appearing well groomed.
Perhaps the most important pieces of advice I can give you are to encourage yourself and envision success. Keep your teeth to the cheese wheel (or is that “keep your nose to the grindstone”?), and most of all – no matter if you achieve your resolutions or not – love yourself in all your rat-tastic glory.
Keepin’ it squeak,
Keepin’ it squeak,