Oh it’s that time of year again. Just as the trees are finally shedding the last of the autumn colored leaves and the tryptophan is clearing out of your system, the holiday jingles and another New Year’s are but an inch in front of your face. If you’re thinking of making another resolution, or if perhaps you haven’t thought about it yet and foresee you will, take some time now to put things into the right perspective. Especially, if you are going to make substantial improvements to your fitness levels or sports performance, consider this an urgent matter.
There’s an innate reason you start each year working diligently towards your goals only to vacate your efforts far sooner than you’d expect. The temptation to quit anything surfaces when things get uncomfortable, inconvenient, when something “more important” comes up, or when you flat out feel like you’re failing. Sadly, giving up on physical activity and/or training is as simple as forgetting you have a gym membership. You know your track record. If you’re honest, you can’t expect different results this year than in the past, unless you change the formula. Let’s take a quick look at why resolutions go bad for the most part.
Training related or most any type of New Year’s resolution rarely deliver results, because your formula for success is predicated on a set of rules you create on Day 1 that requires perfection through Day 365. The inherent issue is that you are not perfect! Ironically, all of the rules and guidelines you set for yourself will ultimately reveal your imperfections when you fail to abide, rather than be your means for success. “How frustrating it is to see our efforts towards self-improvement more expedient at revealing our vices than our virtues” (Maurer, p. 33).
So how do you tweak the formula from adding up a bunch of rules that equal a sum of perfection to a system that’s actually effective and manageable?
- Adopt a mindset of high self-worth
Reaching a goal does not determine your value as a person. You have infinite worth on Day 1 and Day 365 in 2017 no matter where you start or finish. All that’s true even though you are imperfect today and will still be imperfect on December 31, 2017.
- Figure out what part of your life you’d like to improve through physical training.
That identifies your core value, and it will be your steadfast source for motivation. It also calls you to raise physical activity to the highest priority level in your life, because you need to acquire the best health possible to be faithful to your core value. Now, you can’t make any excuse to quit or put things off.
- Create a list of things you need to do or change to improve that core area of your life.
Be careful! This can easily be a pitfall, because it’s essentially creating rules. However, instead of aiming to be perfect, this year you are going to allow these guidelines to reveal your flaws, and then you are going to persist in hopes of diminishing those shortcomings, not perfecting them.
- Shorten your list now.
You’re ambitious and zealous right now, and your list is probably not fair to yourself or sustainable considering all of the other high priority things in your life. It’s better to give all you’ve got to a few guidelines than to feebly check a bunch of boxes daily.
- Failures are part of the improvement process, but quitting is not.
You’re not keeping score anymore. Don’t quit. Don’t quit. Don’t quit. Period. No matter what. Don’t quit.
Benjamin Franklin tried to be perfect through a self-constructed religious program. He failed — over and over again. “Ben was surprised to find himself so much fuller of faults than he imagined, but he did enjoy the satisfaction of seeing them diminish” (Staley, p.14). You won’t be perfect this year or any year, so don’t make your resolution about flawlessness. Understand your infinite worth and acknowledge your faults in the process of improvement. Be satisfied every day in between Day 1 and Day 365 with adopting behaviors that simply make life and the things you love the most get better and better, not perfect.
Do not be mistaken, this is not a minimalist, underachieving method. It adds the most significance to you and your values. Your greatest efforts will follow, and you won’t quit!
By: Fred Munzenmaier
- Maurer, T. (2016). Simple money: A no-nonsense guide to personal finance. Grand Rapids, MI: BakerBooks, a division of Baker Publishing Group.
- Staley, M. F. (1998). Igniting the leader within: The leadership legacy of Ben Franklin, father of the American fire service. Saddle Brook, NJ: Fire Engineering/PennWell.