January is the month of hope and change.

(We hope the political hot air balloons all deflate in one giant whoosh and allow silence to cloak the land. We are kidding, sort of.)

It is all about tradition — bid farewell to the old and ring in the new.

The old, frail and stoop-shouldered year shuffles off to heaven knows where. And then, the cherubic New Year Kid bounces into our lives complete with saggy diapers and uncivilized behavior. (Visualize New Year’s Eve, Mardi Gras, and similar festivities.) Unlike human children who sometimes never grow up, the Kid ripens fast.

If you possess an unbridled and warped imagination, have you ever wondered where the Old Year Dude goes? Is there an eternal resort or retirement home for all former Old Year Dudes? If so, are they finally allowed to don white socks, sandals, and Bermuda shorts to kick up their knobby-kneed legs and enjoy some well-deserved fun? Do they compare notes about the things and behavior they witnessed?

Tsk. Tsk. Do not fret or twist your boxers into a wad worrying about coming up with a speedy answer. It is just a simple question to ponder when the power goes out, and we cower in closets or other shelters during tornados.

Should you prefer to cling to the overused and underproductive phrase “New Year’s Resolutions,” you may do so. Whether the words are in English “I resolve” or in knickers-melting French “Je résoudre” or spicy Italian “È possibile risolvere,” actions are more powerful than wishes.

Contrary to popular belief, traditional phrases or words mean nothing without common sense and positive action.

Let us ponder hope and change. If a person is unhappy with some aspect of his or her life or appearance, then a change in behavior and a positive course of action would be prudent. Once you make the decision to act, the crucial thing to remember is “keep it simple.”

Unfortunately, “simple” or “incremental action” is an unknown concept to the impatient folk who walk among us. The instant gratification mindset of today’s society makes it possible for the opportunists to prey upon and profit from the congenitally gullible.

Suppose you want to lose the extra pounds that miraculously appeared on your sexy body. The advertisements for “instant” weight loss pills, speedy body sculpting machines, or diets promising a bikini-worthy figure in one month are an insult to our intelligence. Or they should be. Remember, Rome was not built in a day. The same is true regarding the corpulent bodies hiding in plain sight under XXXL T-shirts. Those creeping pounds took awhile to lump around our once slender figures.

As you can see, the patient and prudent approach to any desired change are not only practical but more productive as well. Although it is clear that patience is a virtue, few of us take the time to practice.

Since “instant” is the foundation of the change many seek, the initial flurry of activity to achieve our goals may diminish over time. Determined corpulence briefly inundates gyms. But when pain and slow progress is all they see, the visits dwindle, and excuses kick in. Or, we drag our feet.

Impatience and procrastination are the true enemies in life for nothing can be accomplished without patience and determination.

Procrastination is an insidious imp that sits on our shoulders and whispers mollifying lies into our ears. As a result, “I’ll start tomorrow,” quickly becomes the mantra of the weak-willed. Or, “I can’t jump into things in the middle of the week. I’ll start on Monday.” Consequently, inaction slides us ever closer to February without any positive results. Consequently, the desire to act on those ambitious plans we made in January slip into the burgeoning corner labeled “mañana.”

Once again, the best laid plans of mice and men often go astray.

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