2016 is Here: Take Actionable Steps to Better Health into the New Year

Happy New Year! So long, 2015; 2016 is finally here and none too soon. To ring in the New Year, let’s first take a quick trip back in time – to the late 1800’s, when the following quote was written…

Resolution. Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.”

This proverb-like advice is one of thirteen ‘virtues’ Benjamin Franklin, America’s Father of Invention, outlined in his autobiography published in 1791.

Later in the autobiography, Franklin lays out his apparently rigorous daily schedule. Here’s a snippet:

“5:00AM – 8:00AM: Rise, wash, and address Powerful Goodness; contrive day’s business and take the resolution of the day; prosecute the present study; and breakfast.”


See Ben Franklin's full schedule here

While his schedule may look impressive (or intimidating), Franklin notes a couple pages later:

“…on the whole, tho’ I never arrived at the perfection I had been so ambitious of obtaining, but fell far short of it, […] I was, by the endeavor, a better and a happier man than I otherwise should have been if I had not attempted it […]”

In Franklin’s time, punctuality (or “time thrift”) was considered both a skill and a sign of personal self-discipline. Franklin even co-developed a clock design of his own with friend and astronomer James Ferguson!

Yet, we also know that Franklin enjoyed the old prank, from electrifying objects around his house to give guests a shock, to publishing letters poking fun at aspects of American life under his pen name Mrs. Silence Dogood. Some scholars familiar with Ben Franklin’s wit have suggested even his daily schedule (above) may be another case of Franklin pulling our leg. He’s surely not above that sort of thing.

Whether Franklin really intended to follow his schedule or he was just having a little fun at our expense, we can say without a doubt that his ability to accomplish the stuff he set out to do (which was in no small part thanks to the help of his wife, Deborah Read, among others!) can inspire us all, in ways big and small.

If you have a few health and fitness New Year’s resolutions jotted down, the next step would be to set some specific, manageable milestones spaced out over the next few months. If you’ve already done, great! Another useful trick is to write out a daily or weekly routine of your activities, from breakfast to walking and other physical exercises. Your daily routine should be as specific as is helpful, but flexible enough to adapt to the weather, your mood, and your life. That flexibility is something we incorporate into our classes and resources, and that you can do yourself to ensure your Steps to Better Health are steady and smart.

While Ben Franklin may have had a point that attempting something difficult can be gratifying even when we fall short of our original goals, another of his Thirteen Virtues was “Moderation – Avoid extremes…” Indeed, there’s no less ‘virtue’ in setting, steadily accomplishing, and ultimately maintaining your resolutions for better health.

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