It was the ancient Babylonians that made the first New Year’s Resolutions over 4 thousand years ago. They have a lot to answer for. Back in those biblical days, the big promises were offered to the gods in return for them looking down favourably upon those humbly making the pledges. Today, we make the annual promises to ourselves. That way, they are easier to break.
There is something odd about choosing January 1st as the best day of the year to make life changes. For many it will begin with a headache and maybe a sore throat. The first morning of the year could well be cold and wet too. And then there is that post-Christmas credit card bill ready to drop through the letter-box as you trudge back out to the working week. It all sounds like a good time for guilty pleasures rather than righteous clean-living.
But how many hours into 2018 will you get before someone asks you what you are giving up? There is a nagging pressure to commit to something… to wish ourselves into being cleaner, leaner, kinder, warmer, cooler, just better at something. It’s an industry. Online retail sites, high street shop windows, television commercials are awash with reasons why now is the best time to make that change. Why?
Now don’t get us wrong, we are all for bettering ourselves. You may have noticed that it is a recurring TTH theme! Improving our lifestyles, our skill sets, our understanding of what fuels and motivates us is exactly what we are about. What we don’t believe in is force feeding. There is no point in making a promise to yourself if you don’t really believe in it. There is even less point in making that promise if you know you’re not going to keep it. We like a challenge… wow, do we like a challenge?!… but the challenges that E and I take on are born out of passion, inspiration and enthusiasm. The start of a New Year is a time to tap in to the ideas and dreams that fill you with the same excitement. Resolutions should be seen as opportunities, not as punishments.
Is the change your making one that you’ve decided or that someone else has decided for you?
It’s very easy to hit upon someone else’s goal and make it your own. This is not always the worst thing. Getting motivated by someone you like or look up to is natural and not a little flattering, but it is your name that is going on this resolution, not theirs. If the target that they are shooting at is not one that is in your sights or in your range, you will probably miss it. Even if you hit it, you may be left feeling unfulfilled. Resolutions are personal. That’s what makes them achievable. A good friend of ours recently wrote, ‘there’s no point looking at someone else’s Chapter 20 and comparing it to your Chapter 1’. What represents an end for a friend may just be the start for you. You may even be asked to ‘team up’ with somebody to help them towards their chosen goal. Think carefully before you agree. A new resolution should be for life, not for January. Pick your own.
Is the change you’re making one that you’re passionate about making or is it one you feel you should because everyone else is?
If a friend or work mate doesn’t have a resolution to pass onto you, there are plenty of other places you can find inspiration… or possibly deflation. Switch on a television, cycle past a billboard, log on to social media and you will find a million images of a better life just waiting for you if you make the advertised holy grail your chosen resolution for 2018. Now, ask yourself how many Christmas presents you bought on the strength of a screen grab that turned out to be a little misleading? That model’s bikini body stretched out on a sun-kissed beach bed that ‘could be yours in three months’ may not even be hers! Good advertising is made with smoke and mirrors. Pictures can be photo-shopped, storylines can be edited, dreams can be just that. Don’t be seduced into making a resolution that is an optical illusion. Be ambitious, be bold… yes… but be yourself and set the bar at a height you not only can clear but really want to clear. The vision of what you want to achieve should come from inside you, not from outside influences. Do this on your terms, in your time.
Is the change your making one that is realistic?
Now we must go and spoil it all by talking ‘realism’! Aren’t we the ones that go jetting off to run through canyons and up mountains and now we are telling you to get real?! What exactly do we mean by ‘realistic’? How’s this for a definition then?… think of the thing you most want to achieve and then add another 10% of challenge for good luck. You can always add a further 10% if your progress is good. Anyone with a loud enough voice can step out into the New Year claiming that the world marathon record is in their sights. Talk is cheap… failure can be expensive. Great expectations can often lead to even greater disappointment. We want you to be stimulated and galvanized, we don’t want you to become disheartened or embarrassed. Get out of your comfort zone but don’t aim for the stars straight away. This is a recreation, not a profession. It’s a fact of life that work commitments, family issues and other unforeseen emergencies may get in the way, so it’s important to set resolutions that are achievable in the time, space and settings you are on. It is much better to set small goals frequently than going for broke with one big New Year project. Small goals can grow into something big, something sustainable. If you want to run and you’re not a regular runner, set yourself the goal of running a 5k race by late February or early March… then a 10k run around April time. If you’re still enjoying the roads by then you can work towards a longer event in the summer. That long-distance test will be a whole lot easier on the body if you have built up to it step-by-step rather than attempting it undertrained, underprepared and of course cold! There will never be a shortage of longer distance races. They will still be waiting for you when you’re ready.
And so will Resolutions! Yes, there is a ready-made initiative on January 1st and we all need to make a start at some time if we really want to set out on a particular journey. But there is no pressure. That journey must be your journey and every time that TTH take on a fresh challenge we talk about staying true to ourselves, not comparing our aims to others and never making our choices and decisions based on other people’s actions or thoughts.
Making a New Year’s Resolution is not a passing fashion, people have been making them for 4 thousand years. Keeping them is the trick. Choose one that fits you, not one that you will want to send back in a couple of weeks’ time.