As the old year draws to a close, a new one dawns and with it the allure of a clean sheet upon which we can re-invent ourselves, such is the time-honoured practice of making resolutions. As a child, my mother would encourage me to make a resolution but I never understood the rationale. If something needs to be changed then surely you do it at the point you identify the need.
Interpreted often as making an improvement to an area of your life that causes dissatisfaction, people can set about big ideals, for example to lose weight or get fit, and they put in huge amounts of effort expecting to see substantial change in short periods of time.
For the next two to three weeks I will not be able to park at the gym at peak times as new and lapsed members turn up in their droves to slave on cardiac equipment or suffer disappointment to find their bicep curl is a few kilograms less than it was in January 2019. By the end of January 2020, the big resolutions for many will give way to domestic and work commitments with resignation, and false belief, that their goals are not achievable. They couldn’t be more wrong!
Whilst there are some strong-willed folk who can and will make decisions and see them through whatever the cost, most of us mere mortals aren’t in that category. For us to achieve our vision of transformation, rather than trying to take one giant leap, we need to target a number of smaller steps to success: steps that are simple and achievable – and possibly even fun.
By way of example, I offer my own story. A decade ago, finding myself suffering from overwork, I was overweight, unfit and not very happy with life. I realised that the only person who could change that situation was me. I embarked on what I now view as my ‘small steps’. This involved adopting lifestyle choices that I anticipated would have a positive effect on me. Over time I made changes to what I ate and drank and improved my levels of physical and social activity by exploring new and different things. It was during those ten years and through the activities I tried that I discovered my love of distance running and which led ultimately to my big challenge to run John O’Groats to Land’s End this year – itself an event made up of many small steps.
I’m still working on my small steps, making changes that I hope will enable me to continue to enjoy a good quality of life.
A few thoughts for you:
Make sure your goals are things that you want to aim for, not what you think others want you to aim for.
Commit to something well-defined and achievable, rather than a long term goal. It may, however, be the first step towards a long term goal.
Ask yourself how the commitment to the resolution will be accommodated in your already busy life. Be realistic about how much time and energy you can give to it. If it’s truly part of your vision of change then it is going to be for life, not short term.
Your goal should also be something you enjoy doing. Going out for a run five days a week may be a worthy goal but, if you don’t like running, it’s only going to make you miserable. Better to find an activity you do enjoy and do it fewer days a week as you’re more likely to stick at it.
You need to believe that your vision is achievable and then work out the small steps that will help you to get there. You might find some ideas to help in the collection of my own small steps here – there are thirty of them. If you were to use all of them, taking them one a month, it would still take you two and a half years to complete them although I can pretty much guarantee that you’d be healthier and happier as a result. My own experience has been that it is the journey itself that has brought the biggest rewards – the destination has been the icing on the cake – however I don’t eat so many of those as I once did 😊
Whatever you decide to do, I wish you success with your choices and a Happy and Healthy 2020!
The end goal is a bonus - it's the journey that changes us