It’s the time of year that everyone turns their mind to what they want to change for next year. They make New Year’s Resolutions, many of them half-heartedly. If you take a read of a post I put up yesterday, these resolutions seem easily made, and easily broken – unfortunate that it’s so expected. Somehow, goals are more permanent, and I think I know how.
If you’ve ever been a smoker (I was), that was the easiest resolution to make. You usually were pressured into it by friends and family infused with too much rum nog over Christmas and Kwanza, and you agree. How mentally prepped were you? Not prepped at all. So it was easy to break that resolution.
I’ve already warned about the temptation to start everything on what is arguably an arbitrary day. The reason our year starts on January 1 is that this was the date when senators were elected to the Roman senate. That hasn’t happened in a nearly two millenia, so frankly I’m going to call this “arbitrary”. So you’ve picked your day, which is great – now you need to worry about how you are going to get from where you are to where you want to be.
I’m going to encourage you to set goals, rather than New Year’s Resolutions. What’s the difference? Well, sometimes just the difference in name alone can be something that makes it easier to digest – remember the old “New Coke” vs. “Coca-Cola Classic“? Which one sounds full of stress and fear now, and which is comfortable? Resolutions seem to carry the stigma that they will eventually be broken, and I’m going to encourage you to stay away from that kind of language. Management, public relations, spokespeople, counselors and coaches, they all know the importance of language, and how sometimes re-framing something is the biggest key to understanding.
Goals are a promise to yourself that you intend to keep. Resolutions are something society expects you to break – and most people are only interested in how long it took for you to break them.
I believe in goals so much that I just posted a separate page on setting SMART Goals. I am really encouraging you to go and read that. Go ahead, I’ll wait. There’s no rush. Come back when you are done.
Read through it? Think you understand it? Good! Now, that’s my opinion on goals, but there are others. Remember that I was a big proponent of doing everything all at once – I quit smoking, cut my consumption of alcohol to nearly nothing, changed my diet and drastically increased my exercise. Ok, I admit to being a bit of a zealot. However, my friend who is working with me on these posts has some advice as well, for those that want to take a different path:
Don’t try to change everything at once. Few people can pull this off! It can be a recipe for failure.
That is actually very practical advice. You can work towards blending different parts of your life together, bringing one goal in after you are comfortable with a previous one. Stagger each by one month. My biggest suggestion, though, is to start – and keep – your exercise goal first. That increased activity level will lead to remarkable changes in your body, including changes in the kinds of food your body craves. Exercise leads to wellness – there is no other simple, shortcut formula.
My friend also suggests that you be flexible with your goals, as pushing your body too hard too fast can lead to serious injury. A certain amount of stiffness and soreness is normal but true pain isn’t. It’s a lot more disappointing to have to sit out two weeks of running instead of slowing it down when you are truly hurting. There is a careful balance – don’t let yourself off the hook because your muscles are sore – but listen when something is wrong. And that’s the biggest point – listening to your own body. I remember being quite stiff the first few weeks, but then my body started to crave the activity, the work, the output. And the best part was that the input (of food) was not a hardship because my body wanted good, solid fuel.
The next segment will be talking all about motivation. I will include internet resources, lots of links for beginning runners and exercisers, tips on how to stay in the game, and logging.
I know you can do it. You know you can do it. You’ve even picked the date that you’re going to start to do it. The only thing you have to ask yourself now is this:
I’m probably going to need to give something up in order to give myself the time to do this. What am I going to cut? What TV show or shows am I going to stop watching, as they don’t add to my life the way this does? What type of lifestyle will I have this time next year?
You will frankly be amazed at what you are willing to cut out if you are committed to doing this. I applaud you – and hope you will let me track your progress somehow. Don’t forget to follow me on twitter @ommoran and let me know you are there!