It’s resolution time. That point at which we decide that an aspect of our life will change for betterment in the coming twelve months.
An honourable task, but why do we fail so often to see these things through, only to repeat the process again the following year?
Look at the word. RE-SOLUTION.
1. back, backwards
2. again; prefix added to various words to indicate an action being done again.
Essentially we are applying the same kind of solution again and again, year after year. If that works for you then full strength to you. For most of us it doesn’t.
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”
Yet we still do it.
For years I would wake up on new year’s day, feeling guilt at my own excess, self-loathing at my body composition, and general disgust at my lack of ability to see anything through. Then I’d proclaim to the world how this year would be different. This year I’d give up X, start doing Y.
And that would be the sum total of thought and planning that went into my resolution. So it’s not surprising that my resolve collapsed so early when it began on such flimsy foundations.
So, what’s the answer?
If I knew that, I’d be rich, and some hired hand would be typing this. I’m still working it out myself, but what I can do is offer some advice that has helped me to achieve many of the goals and aspirations I have set myself.
Let’s look at the etymology of the word resolution again.
late Middle English: from Latin resolutio(n- ), from resolvere ‘loosen, release’
This is our starting point. We are going to loosen or release ourselves from the constraints of what we think we should be/think/feel, and discover what we really want and why we want it.
Wanting to make a change is great but unless we know our ‘why’ it often comes to nothing.
We all need motivation, and while watching some power speech with a rousing soundtrack on Youtube gets the blood pumping, it’s short lived.
The root of the word motivation is MOTIVE. What’s your motive? What is driving you to do this?
This is your ‘why’. Really think about why you are doing this and, if it comes from a place of negativity, try and rephrase it. ‘Because I’m fat and out of shape’ becomes ‘because I want to be fitter and healthier to enjoy the things I love’.
Without a ‘why’ we have no real drive.
Once we have a motive we need to embrace selfishness. what I see time and time again, is people not giving their own health the importance it deserves, unable to justify to themselves a few hours out of the 168 in a week.
When we fly on a commercial airline we are told that in a emergency we should put on our own oxygen masks before helping others with theirs. Makes sense doesn’t it? Taking a small precaution to ensure our own safety allows us to help many others.
Well the same thing applies to your health, people. The healthier you are the easier it is to help others. So allow yourself the time to be a healthier version of you, because we all benefit. Thank you.
Setting yourself a goal is a great way to get fired up for change, and following the S.M.A.R.T template can be useful.
Specific- Define your goal as much as possible
Measurable- Can you track your ongoing progress?
Achievable – Make sure it’s not too out of reach or too easy
Relevant – Is it worthwhile, does it improve you, does it float your boat
Timely – Give yourself a time-frame to work to, e.g. race date
Now remember a goal without a plan is just a wish, so geek out about the best way to achieve this, hire a trainer/guide, or join a group of like minded people – BUT AVOID ANALYSIS PARALYSIS. When in doubt just pick a programme/method and start, don’t get too bogged down in the minutiae.
My technique for each year is to pick 1-2 big challenges, things that scare me a little. Last year it was a Half Ironman. This year it’s a Spartan Race and the Mourne Mountain Marathon. By signing up for something a bit scary, you get the impetus to put in the effort to achieve it. Last year it was learn to swim or possibly drown.
What scares you is subjective to yourself. It could be a Couch to 5k programme, to hire a Personal Trainer, making a regular date to walk with a friend, whatever.
Once you have decided and signed up the next important step is to make yourself accountable. Broadcast it far and wide on social media, tell anyone who’ll listen, get sponsorship for a charity.
Once it is out there it’s happening.
The reason why I like a challenge rather than a goal is that it’s more about the process. A goal has a fixed end, a destination, a challenge is a journey, something to work ‘through’.
You might set yourself a goal for the future but it’s the journey to get there that makes the difference. The effort we put in, week on week, to enable us to reach that goal is where the change takes place. So enjoy the journey, and when it is hard remember the Russian proverb:
The same hammer that smashes glass, forges steel.
And finally, accept that things go wrong. This is easier if we focus more on the process than the final destination. When the plan turns to shit, pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get back to it.
So you ate a bad meal. You are only one meal away from being back on track.
So you missed a workout. Well let’s crack on with the next session.
You got sick. Okay, lets see how we can shift our time-frame.
So, find your ‘Why’, be a little selfish, pick a goal/challenge, make a plan, make yourself accountable, and enjoy the journey. And remember to keep looking back to see your progress and give yourself the praise you deserve.
We’ve got this.
What challenges will you set yourself this year?