A Year of New Resolutions

By the time you end up (maybe) reading this article, two months (maybe a bit more) of 2017 will already have gone by. It then seems late, maybe even pointless to talk about (New Year’s) resolutions. Well actually, I happen to think that it is just as, if not more, relevant than let’s say, early January. Let me try and convince you!

First, for most people, New Year’s resolutions have either started fading or have completely failed by now. So a nice little reminder, either to spur you on or to make you reflect on what went wrong, seems perfectly à propos. Also, and that is not exactly a scoop, there is absolutely no rational reason why January should be better than any other time of the year to make a good resolution. So if you feel that you could use some ideas or inspiration, read on !

As this is coming from your favourite Pilates provider and my expertise is limited to this topic, the article will focus on the fitness and health aspects of resolutions but could probably apply to other areas of your life. Here are 4 common issues and their potential solutions.

  1. Setting a goal as a resolution:

Again, that might seem very counter intuitive. Goals are usually a good thing right… ? Not really, specifically on a mid to short term period. Let’s say you want to lose a specific amount of weight, or gain some muscle, or run a 10K. Usually people try and achieve that as quickly as possible (usually through gruelling sacrifice and effort) and either fail without getting much, except disappointment, from the experience. Or, they succeed (usually in a state of exhaustion and/or exasperation) and go back to the life that led them to be dissatisfied with their fitness or health in the first place, making the whole thing a moot point. A goal is just that, a goal, a fixed point, a milestone, that will have no long term benefit on your quality of life or your fitness.

Solution(s): commit to do something that will lead to a goal you desire regardless of how long it takes (or doesn’t take), an action, a habit that will have short, mid and long term benefits. Something daily or at least weekly that you can sustain without insane sacrifice and suffering. That will benefit you as soon as you start and forever, long after you’ve achieved whatever goal you’ve set and will help you achieve even more on a scale you didn’t even suspect in the begining.

In short: create and trust a new process.

  1. Go big or… go very small, avoid the middle:

Everything in life, in fitness, in science etc… happens on a spectrum, nothing is ever black or white. When it comes to resolutions, and (following issue number 1) new habits and new processes, we actually need to look for either end of the spectrum. In every aspect and decision we make. Which end of the spectrum you lean towards will depend on your personality and your means (time, money, energy). Let’s illustrate; You could go big, for instance decide to stop having fried food (completely! Think about that, no fish… no chips… no crisps !). If you really enjoy fried food and have it on a regular basis, you’re probably setting yourself up for failure and it’s therefore pointless. What you might do is decide to have fried food only on the weekends, or have 3 specific days without fried food. In short: go small, it’s better to eat LESS fried food over the course of twelve months or longer, than to have NO fried food for two weeks and then binge for the remaining fifty.

In another scenario and, again, depending on your personality, going big might be better; instead of pledging to « go to classes/to the gym more often » which is very vague and not specifically enthralling, find something you think (or you know) you will enjoy and double down on it so you have no choice but to do it : Invest in a spanking new bike and join a cycling club that rides EVERY weekend. Schedule a different challenge with some friends (different ones) every week for the next 3 months. In short; commit so much that you have no choice but to go forward with it.

  1. Forget about the social contracts:

It’s hard to tell exactly when and how exactly that principle of new year’s resolutions came about, but regardless, don’t let it dictate or influence your decisions. You shouldn’t wait for January to start something new, something that’s supposed to be good for you. Nor should you feel obliged to do something in January if the circumstances don’t lend themselves to it at all. Don’t be ashamed or disappointed if by March you haven’t achieved what you set out to, you have another 9 months to go in the year, and hopefully a lot more after that, so reflect on what went wrong, try and tweak the process and start again, that is what being resolute is about.

If you HAVE SUCCEEDED, don’t think you’ve arrived, think about what went right and what else you’d like to improve or how to maintain what you’ve achieved, so that in a year’s time you won’t be starting from scratch again.

  1. Find your WHY:

We usually have two obvious but very convicing reasons to go to work every day :

  1. We have to so we can pay our rent/mortgage and feed ourselves and our families.
  1. We might actually love what we do.

Whether or not you are lucky enough to have both reasons, you will probably agree that even the first one is enough to kick us out of bed every morning! So going back to point number 3. Social pressure is not a powerful and intrisinc enough reason to keep us going. You need to figure out what really matters to you when it comes to health and fitness, what scares you the most, so that you always have something to go back to when you don’t really feel like it. That WHY might actually also lead you towards the specific action and activity that you might appreciate/need more, even if you don’t quite enjoy it yet, at least you’re really finding meaning in it.

Finding yourself out of breath all the time, can’t keep up with the kids or grand-kids, something to think about when trying to motivate yourself to get some cardio done. Struggling to tie your shoelaces, or to pick up things from the floor, maybe it’s worth doing those stretches every morning. Etc… etc…

In short: you need to convince yourself of the utter necessity of what you’re about to attempt before even starting if you want to have a chance at succeeding.

Hopefully this helped revive or sustain any momentum that you’d mustered in January.

 

By Julien Hofmann

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