As the clock struck midnight and fireworks filled the air, a different clock started counting up for almost half of us. With a 9 in 10 chance that this new clock will explode in a giant ball of self loathing failure, you’ve gotta wonder, why do we try? More importantly, how can I be part of that elusively successful 1 in 10?
40% of us make resolutions for the new year. Eat healthier. Workout more. Volunteer. Learn a new skill. Be less stressed. I love that last one, because inevitably trying to keep it becomes a burden in and of itself, potentially resulting in a cataclysmic
meltdown of Rob Fordian proportions. Regardless as to what you choose for your resolution, the key to success is simple: moderation. So why is it so hard to actually follow that step?
I used to be a runner, in that I would knowingly and without the threat of being chased down and eaten, step outside the comforts of my home and run away, then turn around and run back on purpose. I enjoyed the energy it gave me, the health it helped maintain, the time alone with my thoughts, and maybe the shorts. And I wasn’t that bad at it. I was in the best physical shape of my life, running 10K or 15Kthree times a week. For fun. Twisted. But that was 10 years ago.
The years passed, time became “less available”, pant sizes increased, desire to peel myself off the couch decreased. Until the turning point arose. This is the seed of our resolutions. There is always a moment leading up to January 1st where your brain says “it’s been a fun ride, but this has got to stop.” And several times over the past few years I hit my turning point. I’d stand in defiance and implore myself:
“Hey. You used to run. Do that again.”
From there, it was a fantastic fail cycle. My first thoughts were always “I used to run half marathons, I’ll just start at 5000km a week and build myself back up again!” Two weeks of torturous attempts later and I’d be back on the couch exhausted or injured, defeated and resigned to the fact that I just wasn’t as young as I used to be. And for those that have tried and failed at something more than once, you know the stinging shame of defeat that grows each time you don’t reach your goal.
This is where the moderation works, but it needs to get past something bigger in the way: your ego. Every year people set vague and somewhat inhuman goals, and then try to eat Goal Mountain in three bites. I’m guilty of it. Someone you know is guilty of it. Maybe you are too. Regardless as to what you think you can do or what you usedto do, you just can’t do that.
My impatience to obtain my goal always submarined the very attempt to reach it. So today I share with you the simplest way I found to finally reach my goal. Start slowly, and take baby steps. I can’t believe Richard Dreyfuss was right in What About Bob.
10 weeks ago I started a beginner running course. And sucker-punch my ego was that pride dry to swallow. But over the course of the past two and half months I slowly started to come back to where I was before. I nibbled Goal Mountain. And Sunday I finished that course feeling confident and proud. It’s awkward to fist pump in the middle of an empty street at 6:30 in the morning, but it still feels fantastic. And the key things I took away from that can be applied to whatever goal you set yourself starting today, or whenever you want to change things up a little.
Take your time, start small, and accept that some days it just isn’t going to happen. The more you try to cold turkey something, the more tempting it’ll be to go back to what you’re trying to stop. Give yourself some leeway. Have a cheat day. Realize you’re human, have your moment to step away, then get back on the horse and get back to baby horse stepping. The sooner you realize it isn’t going to go from black to white overnight or in a week or or a year, the better your chances will be that you’ll actually accomplish what you set out to do.
Ironically, I’m sitting here on January 1st without a resolution. “Keep running” doesn’t seem strong enough to me. But when I find something, you’d better believe it’ll be an intense slow-motion change the likes of which has never been seen. And remember, just because the world might not know what you’re doing, doesn’t mean it isn’t worth it to you. Keep going.
Now go eat that mountain.