At some point we all make them; our New Year’s Resolutions. But, a quick glance around makes it painfully obvious that for most of us, they don’t work. This is especially true for those New Year’s Resolutions which pertain to the physical aspects of our daily lives, i.e. those that require us to do or not do those things that take some, well, resolution. Some examples include activities like smoking, eating healthier, drinking, exercising, and losing weight, to name a few of the majors. The mere prospects of denying ourselves the things which bring us pleasure, or taking actions which go against our natural proclivities (the things we want to do), conjure up negative feelings. In turn, this causes us to build mental barriers, both real and fictional, to adopting the desired behavior and integrating it into our daily lives.
With regards to running I have to confess that I’m one of those people who actually thrive on the activity. Nothing brings me more pleasure than beating my body into the ground. I was able to accomplish the task for decades by running copious amounts of mileage performed at high levels of intensity. For me, making a resolution to do something (or, not do something) I was already inclined to do, running, would have made no sense. In recent years, though, Father Time has come knocking and demanded that I scale back on my running. Indeed, I have gone kicking and screaming, but I’m gradually coming to terms with the fact that he will not be denied. For a very long time, youthful optimism lulled me into a false sense of security. I felt as if I were invincible. Proudly, I wore running like a badge. It was my proof that I was a disciplined person. But, that’s all changed.
Today, when I look in the mirror, I see a balding, middle-aged man who’s carrying a tad too much weight. Much to my frustration, I lack the physical ability to push myself as hard as I was once able to do through running. I can make all of the resolutions I want, but my body simply isn’t going to comply. What I have learned through this experience―call it an exercise (pun intended) in futility―is that I must now find the motivation to initiate the alternative actions which will provide for my heart’s desires, which at the end of the day is physical fitness. Now, about those New Year’s Resolutions; instead of making declarations that go against our natural inclinations, I suggest we should focus our attention on what we want to accomplish, and not what we will be denied. When we switch to this perspective, we open ourselves to possibilities, instead of setting ourselves up for failure.
Admittedly, I am no longer the gazelle of my youth. At this stage in my life, I think I can be satisfied with being incredibly physically fit (for a man my age that is). Now, if instead of lamenting my loss of youthful prowess (my inability to run as before), I channel my energy toward finding other forms of exercise to incorporate into my daily routine, it opens me to additional possibilities. I might even find something which complements and enhances my ability to run (I’d settle for one day a week). Now, that excites me. In fact, I’m already getting so excited about my prospects I think I’m not going to wait for the New Year. I’m going to get started today. I think the results will follow, don’t you?