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| JOHN HENRY
New Year’s Eve is one of my favorite holidays. It’s all about reflecting on the past and the hope and potential for the new year. While it doesn’t offer a complete “fresh start,” it’s an opportunity to look at your own life, decide what you like and dislike about it and make changes for the better. Major or minor, nearly everyone makes resolutions around this time. Eating healthier, quitting a bad habit and trying to exercise more are among the most popular resolutions, but many fail to attain their goals because they are too lofty and easily forgotten once the hustle and bustle of everyday life gets back in full swing.
One key ingredient missing from most people’s resolution is accountability. I have tried to quit smoking every Januar y 1. I can remember, but I intentionally tell no one to avoid judgment or nagging when I ultimately fail or slip up. Another common flaw with New Year’s resolutions is a lack of true desire and willingness to change. I can relate to this struggle as well because I truly enjoy smoking cigarettes. It’s why I have chosen to continue for so long and have had little to no success in kicking the habit. Lastly, and probably most importantly, our plans to change fail because of a lack of planning. Back to my filthy addiction again, I’ve never looked into alternative options that have proven successful or had a back-up plan when my cold turkey method of choice doesn’t work. The first time I light up each year, I feel like a total failure and say “maybe next year.”
I want to encourage our readers to make a resolution regarding their sexual health this year. We could all afford to change something in a current relationship or with our casual encounters that could make us healthier and happier. Large or small, any change is better than the alternative. Continuing to make risky choices or staying in an unhealthy relationship does not benefit anyone, especially you. Getting tested for HIV and other STIs, having a conversation with your partner about your relationship and its boundaries, increasing your condom use or limiting your number of partners are all great choices.
As I mentioned before, make it something for which you can be held accountable. Tell a close friend or confidant about your plan and encourage him or her to help you live up to your goal. Don’t forget to make the change you choose something that you want to change, and make a game plan with achievable steps to attaining your goal. Maybe a support group or relationship counseling would help. Maybe something as simple as having condoms available when and where you might slip up is all you need. I guarantee that the benefits of changing risky behavior far outweigh the risks of maintaining your status quo. Every step you take to a healthy sex life makes a huge difference. Here’s to a new year and a new you!