Bad habits are hard to break. But each new year, millions of people resolve to do just that.
They vow to follow a healthier lifestyle, be a better listener or be a kinder, more giving person.
Looking for something to do this weekend? Find what you need in our Weekend Entertainment Guide newsletter.
They promise to fight compulsions and addictions, to soothe emotional upheavals or change annoying behavior patterns.
But within weeks, if not days, there they are — back where they started.
If you really want to succeed in turning negatives to positives, if you want to give meaning to your life, Dr. Andrea Dardello has a suggestion.
In this case, however, it's not just about eliminating food.
"It's a purposeful fasting," Dardello said. "It's less about what we consume physically but what we take in mentally."
In an effort to help people take a proactive stance in improving their lives, Dardello is offering a challenge — "21 Days for Change."
Dardello said "21 Days for Change" simply asks people to give up one thing that does not serve them for 21 days.
"It can be certain foods, activities, thoughts — anything," she explained. "While giving up what does not serve them, participants also will be asked to take note of how their lives are different. The concept is that when we make changes in our lives for the better, by extension we also help to improve our families, our communities, our nation and even our world."
The ultimate goal of the national YouTube campaign, she said, "is to prepare participants to do something that will speak to their life's purpose, thus leading to contentment and fulfillment."
Dardello said change happens first within the mind.
"Therefore, if we can change our minds, anything is possible," she said. "This is not just about making resolutions or following man-made rituals. It's an invitation to tap into your purpose and then get to work."
A resident of Hagerstown, Dardello is a professor of English at Howard Community College in Columbia, Md. She also is a motivational speaker and life coach.
"The three integrate nicely into my life," she said. "Many of the concepts of life coaching are what make for an effective educator: listening actively, asking empowering questions, championing, celebrating and holding others accountable while being nonjudgmental at the same time. These qualities are also what enable me to motivate others and lead them to success."
Dardello said she seriously became involved with fasting in January of 2010 when she participated in a corporate fast with her church family at the time.
"It is common for pastors to call fasts at the beginning of the year, since it is a time that we associate with renewal and change," she said. "And while I participated in many fasts, this time would be different."
Dardello said she didn't want to fast "simply because everyone else was doing it. I wanted to fast to find answers for my life."