All over the world people are sat chatting to each other asking the same questions, “What are your new years resolutions?”, “What do you plan to do next year?”, “What are you going to achieve?”. The responses largely fall into two categories: blind optimism or staunch cynicism.
“I’m going to lose weight, run a marathon and save loads of money. Next year is my year!”
“New years resolutions are for idiots. No-one ever sticks to them. It’s pointless to have them. I’m going to carry on as I am.”
Both stem from the same thing. People like saying they’re going to do things, it makes them feel good. It makes them think they’re going to change and start addressing the things they’ve always wanted to. The problem is, they never actually follow through with it. It’s always easier to say you want to be someone than actually taking the steps to getting there. Just thinking about doing it gives a little endorphin rush. That’s enough for most people.
But the reality is that the start of a new year is actually a really good time to start making changes, especially where health and fitness is concerned. You’ve just spent the last few weeks drinking and eating whatever you like, you’re ready for a break, you actually want to stop being unhealthy. You’re actually focussed. You just have to do it. And for a certain type of person there’s a third response, one that’s fuelled by an actual desire to make the changes, one that isn’t a token gesture towards feeling good for a couple of weeks.
“I’m going to start going to the gym three times a week and I’m starting a course to learn something new.”
The difference is that this group of people are committing to actually doing something. They may have a goal, they may want to lose weight or put on muscle, but they know that you have to actually do something to get there. The other key difference is that they’ll actually do it. A goal is something that happens in the distance. You don’t just achieve it. It may take a long time to get there, you may not even feel like you’re moving towards it. But as long as you’re doing the things that move you in the right direction, you’re on the way.
Making changes isn’t easy though, and someone who isn’t used to putting in the effort to get there is likely to struggle. If you start weight training or running it could be a few weeks until you see any noticeable differences. That basically means you’ve got weeks of doing something you absolutely hate for no visible benefit. You’ll desperately want to stop and go back to how things were before, because why bother if it’s not making a difference.
It will though. You just have to stick at it. As soon as you start to see the changes something will click in your head. You’ll suddenly want to see what happens if you go further, how much can you change? At that point you don’t start looking at things in days and weeks, you start to realise that things take time. It may be a year until you’re start getting to the point you want to be at. When you get there you may want to go further. But at that point you’ll be used to it. It isn’t an effort any more, it’s just something you do. You’ll probably even enjoy it.
Actually let’s not call them resolutions, it does sound crap, let’s call it focus. A tiny window you currently have in your head where you’re open to the idea of making changes. Next time someone asks you about your new year resolutions tell them you haven’t got any, what you do have is focus to actually do things. You’re going to think differently about what you want to achieve and take steps to get there. The new year isn’t a checklist of goals, it’s just a chance to start making new habits and learning how to stick to them.
Just make sure you give it a month. It takes a while for the brain to get used to new habits, but once it does everything suddenly becomes a lot easier. Then you stop thinking “I really can’t be bothered to do that thing”, you start saying to yourself “how can I fit everything else in.”
Happy New Year people.
Don’t be lazy.
Picture Credits: Pond5