New year new you? Probably not. Maybe we’ll see a very slightly modified you by the end of 2016 but we all know that New Year resolutions don’t usually work. Apparently, about eight percent of them are kept, which means a massive ninety-two percent are broken (and usually before the end of January, I reckon).
But here’s one thing you can do that will more than likely make a difference, even if the path is uneven and the ‘new you’ doesn’t emerge for some time: Rather than promising to do one thing (or several things) from day one and keep doing it (or them) for the next 364 days, set yourself one goal. One big, scary but exciting goal. Something you feel is possible but which you couldn’t do today or tomorrow if your life depended on it. Have a fixed date in your diary for the big thing and make sure you’re really committed to it. Book the time off, the flights, the hotel or whatever else is needed to enable you to be there and do it. Agree to do it with someone else if that helps.
Then spend the next however many weeks or months getting yourself ready to do the big, scary, exciting thing. You won’t work towards it every day and you might not start tomorrow or even next week, but knowing you have to get there in time, your preparations will become more pressing and urgent as the deadline (death line?) approaches.
You might spend the next three months prevaricating and the next few weeks in a mad panic to get to where you need to be but at the end of that time you will be ready. Or you won’t, but at least your odds have improved to about 50/50 or even better.
This is how I got myself fit enough to cycle over the Alps and all the way from Paris to Venice. We had months to prepare (we did it in September) and I ‘wasted’ the first three months (blaming it on the weather) then trained intermittently for a while, until I finally started taking it seriously about six weeks before the off. And I was just about ready. And at the end of the two week ride I was even more ready.
Last year I took a similar approach to the round island walk (48 miles in one day) and again was just about ready in time. The point is, I was fitter each time after the event than I was at the start of the year.
In the years in between I didn’t do anything remotely as challenging, and as a consequence I had no real incentive to stay so fit. Smaller challenges meant less training and lower fitness levels.
Now, I don’t recommend setting your target date as late as September, since the most notable thing after the event, especially the bike ride, was how much I missed it and wanted to do some more.
So, for you, I suggest finding yourself a big challenge for early spring, another in the summer and maybe an even bigger one for later in the year. Hit those targets and this time next year you’ll have some serious progress to look back on and a sense of just what you’re really capable of. Not to mention some fantastic experiences!
Real change comes from doing new things not from making the same old promises.