Don’t Start Your Resolution (Just Yet)

Gyms and health clubs across the country start to see membership numbers ramp up in November every year, gradually increasing until they peak on New Year’s Day.

Monday, January 2 is going to be off the chains. There won’t be a treadmill open, a bench clear or a 10lb. barbell available- until Valentine’s Day.

You’ll see people playing roulette with their rotator cuffs, performing “exercises” that look somewhat unnatural, geometrically tweaked, trying to blend in by not asking someone, anyone… how to do it.

You’ll see people huffing and puffing and sweating on elliptical machines. 8 minutes later, they’re gone.

You will look at the rookies, annoyed that they are slowing you down, feeling crowded and invaded. You’ll feel a tiny bit superior, sniffing with contempt at these occupiers, knowing that it won’t be long…..

Most of us have about 21 days between launch and failure at the gym.

All those good intentions, gone in less than a month.

We should not huff and puff in our heads about the gym newbies. Many of us ebb and flow with exercise- Some days for me it’s two-a-days, some weeks it’s pizza and bacon.

Most of us don’t have a perfect regimen, a perfect plan; not at all- not even a little.

We fail far more than we will ever succeed. This is the essence of willpower.

I want to ask you to not stop smoking, not hit the gym, and not begin that great American novel on January 1 or 2.

I’d like you to do it when you are ready. These goals and dreams are not dictated by a calendar; it’s controlled by your brain and your psyche.

Don’t clean the closets next week just because you promised yourself you would. It’s a good bet it’s not going to get done, for you have likely constructed a plan and a timeline in your head, and this almost certainly dooms you to failure.

When you are ready to be bold and go big in whatever pursuit you are attempting, you might want to try a journal.

You can write in a three ring binder, on Post It’s, or even on Lino (the online sticky site).

Writing about what you are trying to accomplish makes it real in a way that your brain cannot. You can’t do a calendar in your head- it needs to be tangible and real.

I’m finishing authoring a class at school that requires students to keep a “reflection journal”- not so much a diary as a record of progress. The kids are asked to write down their challenges and goals for each week of the class. We test them and give them homework based on the journal entries, so it’s mandatory nature ensures compliance. Without a carrot-and-stick, many of the students would write nothing, and some would fail the class as a result.

January 2 is a HORRIBLE day to start something.  You and everyone else on earth, all going at it at once. I submit the best day is the day you are ready to do it, to try your best, to fail and get back up and go for it again.

You don’t have to be an orange fake tan gym rat to be a success at your health- those people think they look good. We know many more closely resemble Rubberman than actual humans.

You don’t have to clean all the closets next week. Try one shelf. Savor the success.

Have one less drink. Write one page of useless gibberish, just to say you wrote something today. Walk one block. Buy one less double shot no whip mocha, pocket the $3.45 and know that you are one step closer to the European vacation you have always dreamed of taking, but didn’t think you could ever afford.

The danger of the big, bad, bold resolution is that it’s massive in goal and in execution. Not all of us are willing to jump in the deep end on Day One. When we fail at a big resolution, we are shamed. It starts a cycle of believing we are incapable or unable to accomplish something, and the cycle creates inertia, and inaction.

You want a better life in 2012. You want a better job. You want to feel what all of want to feel- a little happier and generally a little more fulfilled

Start your resolution when you are ready. One small step. Another small step. Oops! One step back. If you do the math, you will see that you have still made progress of one step.

I changed the look of this blog today, because I was inclined to do it right now, instead of 1/1/2012. I was ready to change it, so I did.

Maybe you could start writing today at 3:46pm. Maybe you could begin on February 14, when the gym is much less busy…

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