With the New Year upon us, your peers and countless websites are undoubtedly urging you to make resolutions to be a newer and better you. While I think this annual exercise can be a useful one, the changes we pick almost never turn out to work the way we planned — sometimes this is good, sometimes it isn’t. In this article my aim is to give you some food for thought that can help you make the most of your critical few resolutions. Here are my top four tips to master the annual resolution process.
You Are Already Awesome
No, seriously, you are. As a runner you have connected your passion for something and turned it into a physical habit that is good for you. It doesn’t matter if you run to win or run for fun, if you run every day or just a few times a week. Whatever “regular” means for your routine, you have it down. This simple act places you in — no joke — a ridiculously small percentage of Americans who exercise regularly. And by small I mean 1%.
When’s the last time you were in the top 1% of something? Think about it!
Of course you have some work to do. Change is hard. New habit don’t just stick. Yes, you will stumble more than once with your goals…but before we even started I wanted to let you know just how far you’ve already come…nice work!
All Big Changes Start Small
It’s tempting to pick something pretty epic as a goal: Lose 50 lbs. Travel to Nepal. Learn a foreign language. These are all suitably big as to seem cool and motivating. The issue is that some things are so big — and out of the ordinary — as to defy success from where you stand right now.
Instead of lose 50 lbs; try lose 5. Instead of travel to Nepal; try determining where you want to go there (read) and how much it will cost (a budget). Instead of learn a foreign language, try to replace your most common daily phrases and/or words with their foreign alternative (hello, how are you, what’s going on, can you please help me, I don’t know how to, etc.
Instead of just thinking big, take it one step further and break it down into some very basic goals. The idea here is to create some basic and fundamental momentum, the power of which will help drive you more deeply towards achieving the overall target you set. You’ll be amazed at how powerful this can be.
Stop Dreaming, Start Cloud Seeding
Cloud seeding sounds pretty far-fetched; I think I first heard of it during a Buck Rodgers episode (yes, I am that old!). But it’s actually done today and can be a powerful lesson. With the end goal being more rain / water, traditional solutions revolved around diverting water from areas where it was more plentiful. Done via aqueducts and pipes, this is a geographically difficult and complex solution that often comes with territorial issues. But who owns the clouds that deliver the rain? Answer–No one.
It’s brilliant really, tweaking something just slightly so as to create the desired effect on the ground. You can do the same thing and you don’t even need the ability to travel through space like Buck. Looking to become an early riser? Set a “go to bed” alarm to guarantee sleep, set out your early morning clothes ahead of time, get a coffee machine with a timer. Want to run longer this year? Pick incremental distances, recruit “long run buddies”, map out some new cool places to get to. Trying to avoid another overuse injury? Focus on five minutes of stretching after each workout; consider foam rolling at night during a TV session, consider a weekly yoga or Pilates session.
Having a goal is one thing, telling other folks about it is another. You might hesitate to share what you want to achieve, but you might be surprised to find that you are not alone. Some of our most basic goals around fitness, health and wellness aren’t unique to us — after all we could all stand to lose a few pounds, right?
More importantly, involving others makes you accountable and more likely to achieve your goal. It can be a public challenge done via the web or just between friends. Maybe it’s a friendly challenge or a hard-core money-on-the-table proposition. Whatever works for you, do it…just don’t keep the goal to yourself unless you are supremely confident in your personal abilities! If there’s no one else, you can tell me on Facebook or Twitter. I promise I won’t bug you about it and I’ll even silently root for you.
Good luck! I hope you liked my tips and found them useful. If you did, please pass them on to your friends and family…who knows who you might help. Thanks!