Saturday, January 2 was probably the worst day to try out a workout place for the first time. It was a perfect day for resolutioners - it provided some time after the New Years festivities for party-goers to recover from hangovers, and was early enough that New Years Resolutions could be put to the test in full force. Oh, and it was also the first weekend of the year. What was I thinking?!
What I was thinking was it was a normal weekend, I was feeling good with the extra time off to bike, run, hike, play soccer, and practice yoga, and that I should put that extra time to good use by checking out the yoga studio down the road that I've been meaning to go to for months. I didn't even realize my mistake until I walked through the studio doors and saw two distinct groups prepping for the class: studio regulars who determinedly refused to let anything (or anyone) keep them from their beloved yoga, and the dreaded resolutioners.
Don't get me wrong - it is noble to set a resolution at any time and follow through on it - but I'm talking about the stereotypical resolutioners here. You know who I'm talking about: the people who set way too ambitious goals with no game plans and who all too soon into the new year bail on their goals. According to one source, 45% of the population usually makes New Year's Resolutions, but only 8% of those people actually achieve their goals. That's incredibly low!
So what are some tricks to avoid being a stereotype?
- Set concrete goals and deadlines.
Instead of saying "I'm going to lose weight!" say how much and when. (And by the way, you're beautiful no matter what the scale says!) To use cliche 1990s self-help lingo: "A dream is just a dream. A goal is a dream with a plan and a deadline." (Thanks, Harvey MacKay).
- Pick something that makes sense for YOU!
These are your resolutions. Not your mom's, brother's, boss's (well, maybe they're your bosses if your boss gave you feedback and you want to keep your job), your BFF Jill's from middle school who you haven't talked to in years, or your friendly neighborhood blogger's resolutions. What are goals that make sense for you?
- Set something attainable.
"Find my soulmate" or "win the lottery" are not resolutions. It takes two to tango and nobody wants unrequited love or delusional friends. Now, if you've figured out how to harness the power of pheromones into a bottled love potion or something, maybe we can talk...
- Have metrics and track your progress.
Oh, you said you'd get all fancy with your culinary skills and try three new recipes by February? Track that!
- Tell people!
Because if someone (or lots of someones, or the whole world!) knows your goals, they can ask you how they're going and keep you accountable. You certainly don't want to go to trivia night in March and your college buddy asks you how your progress on photography classes are going and you haven't done squat about it, right?
- Make mistakes and forgive yourself.
Nobody is perfect, and that's fine. Resolutions aren't "all or nothing." If you give up caffeine but one morning after a long night (of work of course, right?!) you really need a pick-me-up, then don't beat yourself up over one cup of coffee.
- Just keep trying.
You think "A+ for Effort" and participation prizes are all that bad? Come on, give yourself credit for trying, hoping, and striving, and don't get in your own way. We're talking about that wonderful power of hope, of the incredible eternal optimism that we can actually be better people! By just trying to be better we validate ourselves. The only thing we actually have in the world is time, and if we choose to invest that time in ourselves - no matter how big or small - then we assign value to ourselves. What better investment can you make?
So what are my resolutions? Well, I tend to treat years in themes. These themes are on-going goals that I work towards my whole life, but with specific resolutions that fit into the themes. So for example, one year the theme was to avoid mediocrity (hello, higher grades in college!), and one year was to gain perspective (that meant lots of post-college classes and talking to people). This year? Take risks. Too often we're encouraged to follow convention or tradition, because it's easy or because we're told to. We conform to what is safe and familiar, but really we only grow when we step out of our comfort zones, and that means taking risks.
What does risk look like for me?
- Run fast, farther, and longer.
Okay, this is a bad example of specificity and planning because I haven't finished planning my 2016 race calendar yet, but it definitely means at least another 5-mile race and half-marathon and PRs in both.
- Try a new activity or go somewhere new every month.
Who says exploring places and things are just for kids? Last year I visited Canada for the first time, swam with sharks, took a drawing class, and tried roller-joring, and these were all great! So I'm going to expand on this and make it part of my whole year.
- Master crow pose (bakasana) in yoga.
I'm so close! I really want to be rock-solid steady in this pose so I can build to more difficult variations and arm balances (like head stand!).
- Write more.
Okay, well, maybe not more because if you all knew how much writing I did everyday then you'd probably stage an intervention or something, but I do want to be smarter and more productive with my writing. How? You're reading the fruits of industrious writing right now! That means a minimum of one post per week, on a regular schedule. Starting...well, I guess today!
So what are you doing this year to express your undying optimism and love for yourself?