I try to avoid New Year’s resolutions, as I have become cynical and weary of the “new year, new me” commitments that quickly get picked off as we near halfway through January. I partially blame social media for this phenomenon, as the New Years resolution post tends to be an act of attention seeking as opposed to a concrete way to keep oneself accountable.
One of the most profound changes a person can make, which is certainly true in my life, is the ability to change my body through exercise. I can stand in front of a mirror and in a few weeks literally see my body change right in front of my eyes. That fact alone, putting the unseen physical and mental health benefits aside, makes exercise the most beneficial tool for change as it is one of the few tools that allow me to visually observe and actually measure the changes that are occurring.
My first tip: Don’t tell anyone your fitness resolution. It’s for you anyway. That half hour of cardio, or that spin class isn’t going to get anyone else in shape but you. It has also been psychologically proven that people have better chances of following through with their changes when they don’t announce it to anyone.
A good friend of mine quit smoking about a year ago. I had no idea he quit until someone asked him if he wanted a smoke, to which he replied, “Nope, I’m good.” That was it, no proclamations or long-winded answers. It took me a couple weeks to catch on, and when I asked him he told me the thought process behind it. By telling others your plans for changing, your brain provides a false sense of achievement because you have announced it as a fact. It has been almost a year and he hasn’t had a smoke since.
Second, why not make it a daily resolution instead of a yearly one? An entire year committed to anything, especially a change different from your norm can be quite daunting. It can seem too big a task, and in my experience in making resolutions, it didn’t take more than a couple weeks to start thinking “There’s no way I am going to make it a year, so I might as well just call it quits now.” That’s a failing mindset. Instead, a daily resolution is a much easier bite to manage. It reinforces a successful mindset because each day you exercise, you fulfill your daily commitment to yourself.
Finally, take it easy on yourself. Change isn’t easy. The fact you’ve committed yourself to changing your lifestyle is an accomplishment in itself. We all get off our beam. Life gets busy, unexpected things happen, but that doesn’t mean we have to give up. The beam is always there.
I’ll call myself out and say I am off the beam. I recently moved (down the street, but a move nonetheless). It was stressful, all of my stuff is in boxes and it seems like I have a million things to do. I know the beam is there; I have the experience of getting in the daily rhythm of working out and eating healthy. I know I feel better mentally and physically when I do those things. But the last few weeks were a little hectic, my routine was thrown off, and I couldn’t exercise or eat like I normally would, and guess what? That’s ok. Things have calmed down, and I can now focus my attention back on my routine.
Change is never an easy process. It’s ugly and messy. We take three steps forward then two back. Sometimes it hurts or we second-guess ourselves. But if we stick with it, eventually something clicks… then another thing… and another. Before we know it we hit a stride and get into the type of rhythm where it starts to come easily.
Make a commitment to accomplish your goal today. If you are one of the many who have already tossed your New Years resolution, pick it back up! Quietly. Your resolution is yours, not anyone else’s.
Transformation is an inherent human desire that motivates us to change whatever comfortable norm we have become acclimated to. We constantly strive to reinvent ourselves and better ourselves and are always in a constant state of change. What can seem like an abstract discussion of philosophical thought takes shape in our daily lives in many unsuspecting ways. We make New Years resolutions, switch careers, and make decisions to eat healthy or go green. What more are these than manifestations of our human desire to transform and evolve into better men or women?