It was December 30th, I walked into the gym and took a deep breath, inhaling the familiar smell of all of the sweaty gym rats and enjoyed the moment of recognizing every face around the room. I knew that the next time I walked through those doors this was only going to be a fantasy.
The month of January is a nightmare for regular gym-goers. All of the fresh faced resolutioners storm through the doors and, much like fumbling infants, spend entirely too much time trying to figure out exactly what they are supposed to do with the equipment that they have stumbled into. Most of the time they lack the courtesy of gym etiquette and you’ll find yourself settling into someone’s sweaty left-overs on the bench press or tripping over an abandoned free weight in the middle of the gym floor. It becomes frustrating and the place that is usually my retreat and stress reliever has suddenly become an obstacle course of lost and confused people. Contrary to the direction that this seems to be headed, I am not opposed to virgin gym-goers taking on the challenge; I’m simply opposed to New Year’s resolutions.
The premise of a New Year’s resolution creates so much pressure and unrealistic expectations that it sets you up to fail. I would venture a guess that at least 80% of people who make a resolution have abandoned it by no later than mid-year, with that being a generous approximation. Why is that? Why do so many people advertise the goals that they have for the year only to abandon them before the words have fully left their mouth? I have a theory. They’re not ready. Goals are fantastic. Having goals is what drives the leaders of the world to be the people that we talk about and emulate, but they can’t be forced. A goal is a very personal decision on a very personal time frame. If you’ve been a smoker for 15 years, are you suddenly going to be able to quit just because you tore another page off of the calendar; because you’re supposed to make some dramatic life change because it’s a new year? No, you’re not going to be able to quit until you are mentally ready. Could January 1st be the day that you are mentally ready? Sure, but is that going to be the day for everyone? Absolutely not!
I’ve found that in my life, the goals that I have been most successful in establishing and achieving have been the ones without pressure behind them. For example, trying to lose weight for an event creates so much pressure that I find myself dipping into the Ben & Jerry’s to alleviate the stress of weight loss! I probably made the resolution to lose weight at least 12 times before I actually did, and when I did, it wasn’t a cold day in January. It was a hot day in the middle of the summer when mentally I was prepared to say, “It’s time to make a change.” I did make the change; I made it because I wasn’t on display and I didn’t have the pressure or the free pass to quit.
No one expects you to keep your resolutions. If you ask one of the regulars at the gym, typically they say that they can’t wait for February when they can have the gym back. February! Only a month after the resolutions are set there is an expectation that they’ll be abandoned, and the reason why is because most people do. You’re expected to quit, so it’s no one’s surprise or disappointment when you do. At the risk of sounding severely pessimistic, I would discourage you from making any resolutions…ever. I can, however, make a different recommendation.
1. Make a list of all of the goals you’d like to accomplish.
2. Next to the goal, determine what the circumstances you would need to actually tackle that goal.
3. Set clearly defined, measurable boundaries for your goal.
4. Define a plan of attack.
5. Establish a start date that is consistent with the alignment of the circumstances.
6. Set mini-goals to measure progress.
7. Share your plan with someone you can trust who will encourage you.
8. Believe in your ability to accomplish your goal.
9. Speak positively to yourself.
10. CELEBRATE THE RESULTS!!
Sure, this method could be implemented at any time of the year, even the first day of January, but I think that most of the time resolutions are vague and haphazard and in order for goals to be achieved, they must be more clearly defined and implemented.
Set goals, not resolutions!
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