It’s the end of January. Most New Year’s Resolutions are forgotten, abandoned or causing a great deal of angst. But they can succeed, and you will feel so awesome with the sense of accomplishment that comes. In this final article I’d like to share a few nuggets of wisdom I gained in 2012.
A Resolution can really only work if it has a specific, quantifiable result that you’re aiming for. Just saying “I want to get in shape” isn’t enough. The goal needs to be something like “I want to lose 15 pounds and be able to run 10km without stopping”. The goal also has to be realistic. If you haven’t picked up your guitar in ten years and you set a goal of winning a national musician contest in September, you might be aiming a tad high, and thus setting yourself up for failure. If in doubt, set the bar a little low – it’s a lot more fun to surpass a goal than to fall short. That said…
2) Winning isn’t everything – it’s the effort that matters
A clear Resolution can be scary because it holds us accountable. Some of us hate to lose or fail so much that we’ll avoid even setting a goal for fear that we might fall short. This can be a huge deterrent to making a difference in our lives. “If I don’t even try, I won’t feel bad about failing.” Unfortunately, this mental trap ignores the fact that we already feel bad about something in our lives, and any improvement on that will probably make us happy.
For example, I could say that I failed in my Health goals in 2012. I set a goal of losing 25 pounds and I lost 23. I set a goal of limiting my alcohol intake to 149 drinks and I slid in at 151. I set a goal of 160 workouts and I only managed 156.
So did I fail? Absolutely not! I lost 23 pounds last year; I completely changed my consumptions habits for the better and I got into shape. Who wouldn’t be happy about that?
My point here is that no-one should avoid making a goal for fear of not reaching it. If the goal is precise and realistic, it becomes a target to shoot for. Even if you don’t make it, you’ll be in a much better place than you would have been if you’d not tried at all.
3) It gets easier with time
Changing any sort of lifestyle or habit is hard: there’s a reason we fall into those less-than-ideal patterns in the first place – they’re easy. Trying to break a habit can be extremely hard: at first.
The good news is it only takes a couple of weeks before the amount of difficulty starts to drop off tremendously. Those first few, critical weeks are when you’re forcing your body or mind to do something new but once you’ve pushed through that transition period your body or mind starts to create a new habit and doesn’t fight you nearly as much.
Late January is hell for Resolution-keepers. It’s right about now that you’ve been suffering for three weeks and you dread taking on whatever your goal is. But just keep going a few more days: it is going to start getting easier. Don’t give up now.
So, did I make any New Year’s Resolutions for 2013? You bet. And in order to be accountable to more than just myself, I’m going to declare them publicly:
a) I resolve to lose 6 more pounds this year
b) I resolve to keep my “treat” consumption (alcohol, desserts, etc) below 260 this year
c) I resolve to do at least 240 workouts this year
d) I resolve to spend at least 180 hours of quality time with God
e) I resolve to go on at least 25 date nights with my wife
I’ll report back at the beginning of 2014. Have a great year, and work hard to make yourself a better person in whichever way you want.
All photos courtesy of the author – all rights reserved