A Resolution of Mine I Actually Stuck To - Breaking Down What Went Right

John McManamy Health Guide
  • In successive Questions of the Week, I asked about resolutions and things you plan to do this month, how you keep your resolutions, and successes you've had in moving your life forward. Faced with the daily challenge of our illness, nearly all of us have no choice but to implement major course corrections. We know what to do, we have the best intentions. But - alas! - we're human. "Normal," even.

    Generally, in these shareposts, I am feeding off of insights from you, but this time around I'll take the lead. I don't have any pat answers. I will simply relate one thing I have done right, then try to break it down ...

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    About 17 or 18 years ago, I resolved to become a decent cook. Peanut butter was pretty much my limit. A tuna sandwich was a distant dream. The kitchen was my enemy.

    How times have changed. Some culinary highlights from my last three months: My seafood risotto proves a show-stopper with company, my "Elvis Pizza" makes a splash in a local cooking contest, same with my gourmet mac-cheese at a potluck, I finally break into Mexican with my to-die-for fish tacos, my "manburgers" with fries draw rave reviews from my visiting college-age nephew.

    I could go on and on, but you get the point. Today, the kitchen is my friend. I am to a skillet what Eric Clapton is to a guitar (okay, maybe what George Harrison used to be to a guitar).

    So, what did I do right?

    First, unlike a lot of resolutions I have made, this was one I actually believed I could stick to. Keeping my room clean? No way. Organizing my laundry? No way. Becoming a decent cook? For some reason it felt right.

    Second, I figured Rome wasn't built in a day. I wasn't going to learn everything at once. A few basic dishes to start with. No reaching for the Julia Child cookbook. My early successes spurred me on. My inevitable failures proved to be excellent learning opportunities.

    Third, my successes acted as an incentive. I was saving money not eating out, I was literally enjoying the "fruits" of my labor, plus I was eating healthy.

    Fourth, I was receiving unexpected benefits. Cooking proved to be an important stress-buster for me. I quickly discovered there was no way I could ruminate on my normal day-to-day crap while chopping onions (and I have all my fingers to prove it). For me, a potential four-burner Chernobyl in the making became a Zen-like walking meditation.

    Fifth, success built upon success. I could talk about food. And, my food could do the talking. For someone with social anxiety issues, this was huge.

    Sixth, I was having fun. If cooking proved to be a chore, I would have gone back to eating out. Iron will and discipline are for things like breathing through my nose when I would rather be acting out like Godzilla - not for sticking to resolutions.

    Seventh, I incorporated people into my new routines. I asked questions, I sought feedback. My immediate world became my support network.

    ***

    I wish I could enjoy the same success in other areas of my life as I have with cooking. But elsewhere I typically find myself struggling. Here, everything fortuitously came together. Are there any lessons I can take into other endeavors? I'm sure there are. Maybe you can help me out.

Published On: January 16, 2010