As the New Year rolled in, every TV morning news broadcast and Facebook advertisement, not to mention friends and family are focused on ringing in 2016 with a resolution…or two or three…to make changes to be a better version of themselves. The good news is that rarely, if at all, do we resolve to be worse, lazier, or unhealthier people in the New Year. That would just be silly. Although saying I want more BBQ and truffle mac-n-cheese in my life is ok, right? It seems to me the majority of resolutions revolve around getting in shape, either physically or fiscally, while others have more altruistic goals of volunteering or donating to a charity. I’ve been thinking about writing on this since New Years, but even more so in the two weeks that have followed as I watch the morning shows before work continue to do mini segments on small ways to stick with your resolution. Some show new workouts that burn a ton of calories and others show quick and effective tips on replacing certain foods with others, (e.g. ditch the rice and make cauliflower rice) or how o organize your closet.
New Year, New You? New Year’s resolutions are interesting because a number of studies show that the majority of people fall off their resolution by the first or second week of February, or within 6 weeks. I can attest to this, as can most gym goers, as my apartment gym gets very crowded right after the new year but slowly gets less and less so until the same small group that used the gym before NYE are the only ones left standing. I’ve always wondered why this happens, especially after the first 3 weeks as studies also say it takes 21 days or 3 weeks to start a habit. In my head, I would have thought the ones that make it to week 4 are on the right track. All-in-all, it is never a bad idea to make a New Year’s resolution; however, instead of broad and lofty goals like “lose weight & get healthy” or “volunteer,” we need to make clear and measurable goals, and include benchmarks for measuring progress. But what really makes one succeed or fail when we set goals for ourselves?
New Year, New Me? My New Year’s resolutions are simple – cook more during the week despite long work hours, eat more vegetables, and make my coffee every morning instead of buying a fancy coffee on the way into work. So far, so good:) But more than my resolutions, in listening and watching these shows discuss tips to succeed I think about the goals I set for my running and triathlon, how I’ve achieved them in my past and my plan for success this year. For me, I think about the accountability of a goal made when I resolve to do something, how it helps keep me on track, and I wonder if others feel the same. Being accountable means I am responsible for decisions made, actions taken and completed. I have chosen a path where I do not have a coach telling me when I’ve reached certain benchmarks, made progress, or fell off my training plan, so I willingly accept the need to hold myself accountable. I not only know I need to hold myself accountable, but I also like to use my friends and family to keep me on track. Someone once told me, “accountability is like being pregnant; you either are or you are not. There is no part-time accountability.” In my head, once I tell someone I am going to do something I’ve made a commitment to my friends and family of which I will follow through. It is about empowering, encouraging, and pushing myself to accomplish a task. It is not always enjoyable, but it is another layer of motivation that fuels me to finish what I start. Plus, I hate disappointing anyone, much less close friends and family that cheer and motivate me.
In addition to self and outside accountability, I try to set up benchmarks along the way that show progress. Sometimes it is strategically putting a shorter race into the training plan to test and motivate myself. There is something wonderful about using a race to help you train. I find it keeps me motivated because I trick my brain into thinking I’ve just cut down a 4 month training program into 2 x 2 month programs. Other times it’s taking a challenging trail and working my way to finishing it faster, or with less difficulty. It sounds a lot simpler than it is, believe me. I struggle just as much as the next person to get out of bed on cold mornings to get in a workout before the day starts; however, I love hitting those benchmarks showing improvement and progress, and then telling my friends and family about my progress and hopefully motivating them at the same time to reach their own goals. So a New Year, New Me? Not necessarily. But taking another year to elevate my goals, being accountable for them, and hopefully seeing great results? Definitely a yes!