Rosh Hashanah, the celebration of the Jewish New Year occurred during the last week of September and always precedes Yom Kippur (October 4, 2014).

This period is one of the most introspective time frames in the year.

It is an opportunity to review our behavior of the past year: with whom were we mean, antagonistic, uncooperative, vengeful, etc.; where we let ourselves down and self-sabotage, etc.; and where were we not in-sync with G-d. And we think about what we will do differently in the coming year to improve our relationships:  with others we wronged, ourselves and G-d. Truthfully, it is about doing differently for a long time to come and making this planet a better place than it is today.

Yom Kippur is a “fast day,” a 25-hour period without food, water, etc. Individuals stay focused on atonement, changing behavior and committing to reconnect with G-d. Everyone greets each other with warmth and sincere acknowledgment that they have started their behavior modification.

Imagine people giving up such a large part of daily life such as eating and drinking for a full day. They do it! It’s unbelievable! (Yes, there is some kvetching along the way; it’s expected.) It’s that one major holiday with fasting on the forefront of their thinking. They “fast” thinking it will help to make them a better human being. There is this commitment to honoring the day and sacrifices are made.

Then the next day surfaces with the next sunrise, “the day after.” Lo and behold it is not Yom Kippur. Their commitment to a new approach in life with new behaviors seems to suddenly have been forgotten. They return to the ways they had before the holiday. The commitment was then for the day and that was yesterday. Oy!

So I began wondering: Why are we able to commit and get intentional for the one day, but not truly commit for the remainder of the year? What is the trigger for the one day? Or, what is the trigger to not honor one’s own commitment or oath/vow as written in the prayer books.

Maybe the reality is that we weren’t all that committed to our relationships with others, or with ourselves, or worse, with G-d? Was it truly about looking good and saying all the right things in the moment for the day?

Or is it possible we realize how hard the work is, committing, being intentional and seeing through the plan? Admittedly, some of the toughest work we as humans have to do is the work on our ourselves: to admit we have flaws, admit we aren’t perfect, admit we have failed is some of the most challenging aspects of being human. We psych ourselves up for one day, fairly impressively. Why can’t we do it for more days? Why is it so difficult to honor our commitment, vows/oaths?

So here’s my suggestion to all of us in the world: when it is your time to be introspective (and, well, everyday should be), do not try to overwhelm yourself with modifications you know you cannot commit to, be realistic. Instead, start with no three behaviors or less, you know you need to modify.

Commit to those three (or fewer) and get them under your belt. Begin to turn these modifications into habits and then move on to the next changes that need to be made.

For example, if you resolve to change your diet, don’t go nuts over a huge dieting plan. Instead, take one to three reasonable steps at a time. Instead of counting calories for an entire meal, maybe eliminate bread or sweets to start. Know that you are counting calories through those that you are removing from your meals. Last time I checked, removing calories was as good as limiting calories.

Remember, life is not like a sprint every day. There is a marathon-aspect as well. In that, you need to plan for endurance: some days are distance runs and some days are short runs. This is true of behavior modification: every day can’t be spent on all behaviors that need focusing. Choose behaviors and actions that you can/will commit to.

Were you able to successfully fast yesterday? Did you eliminate all foods from your body? What foods need to remain eliminated going forward? If you were able to keep true to your commitment yesterday, know that you do have the power to remain intentional today, tomorrow, the next day, the day after that, the day after. The choice is yours!

Stuart Friedman is president of Progressive Management Associates. He is a business visionary who guides organizations through cultural shifts and getting people aligned to strategic outcomes. Reach Stuart via email: