Whether it’s one of the 200+ diet books you’re trying or one of the 500+ exercise regimes you’re doing to keep in shape, it’s time to take a good hard look at your motivations. The third week of January is commonly known as the time that most people give up their New Year’s resolutions. Why? Anything from setting goals that are too lofty, to not having proper resources, to simply giving up. It’s the pendulum swinging back to the other side or it’s the positive binge finally loosing steam.
I believe in resolutions of sorts, but as I mentioned in a recent post, I set New Year’s principles. I like to choose one principle that I can apply to many areas of my life. It could be something I’ve been working on and haven’t been able to master or something that I’ve wanted to change for a while and have yet to fully commit. This gives me the opportunity to better myself many times throughout the day.
Almost 20 years ago I quit smoking. I used New Year’s Eve 1997 as my arbitrary quit date. I set up a plan and everyday I reiterated to myself, to my friends and my family that I was going to quit. Not only did I want to quit, but I wanted to be accountable to others. I wanted to set up a situation where I would feel humiliated if I didn’t accomplish my goal. I knew this would motivate me to work harder next time should I fail. I felt a responsibility to my loved ones. This was an extreme situation and it required extreme measures. If you’re in an similar situation, I recommend doing something extraordinary and shocking yourself into shape, going on a strict diet, or quitting whatever it is you need to quit.
Quitting smoking that way worked for me back then, but nowadays I live my life within my extremes. I choose the middle path as often as possible. This keeps my stress levels low and my satisfaction high. I love to push the boundaries of my extremes, but in a mindful way to increase my well being. After pushing my limits and expanding my horizons, my middle path expands. Think of it as muscle adaptation. As you run longer distances, for instance, your legs will get stronger and it will be easier for you run next time. The philosophy of training on hills to run the flats.
What is it inside us that gets so excited about our resolutions only to watch them disappoint? Why don’t we just commit to getting healthy and staying healthy? The story is old and we all know it. “I’m off alcohol for the whole month of January,” or “I’m off the carbs for good,” or off the sugar, or on the exercise, or signing up for the gym, or waking up early! You name it, all resolutions have come and gone. I’m interested in real commitment and lasting change. I want to continually evolve to be a better, stronger, healthier, more compassionate and loving man. No one is perfect, especially me, and I’m not suggesting we seek perfection either. I’m suggesting we understand that we are an ever evolving organism in an always changing environment. Let’s do our best with what we have to create the best life we’ve ever known. And maybe, just maybe we’ll have an impact on the greater good.
Here are a few techniques to continually improve your well being by knocking on the door of the extreme, but not kicking it down.
1. Question your motives for your resolutions or commitments. Are they too extreme? Can you choose something that will last longer than 2 and a half weeks? Something that you’re passionate about and truly want to improve.
2. Ask how you can make small changes that will become new habits over time. Starting your new exercise regime is great, but be smart about it and down to out too hard too fast. That is the recipe for disaster and a short lived commitment to staying in shape.
3. Implore the 10% rule. Increase your training by 10% each week in order to avoid injury.
4. Create balance with work, family, friends, entertainment and self-soothing.
5. Show up early. This is a great way to avoid stress and you’ll find there is a whole world of people who show up early. Meet them and make friends with them. They’re interesting.
6. Sleep 8 hours. Study upon study shows how sleeping causes a more relaxed and restful day.
7. Give yourself time in the morning to meditate, write, read, have your breakfast, exercise. Create a morning ritual that sets you up for success in your day.
8. Eat like your Grandmother ate. Eat real foods, mostly plants.
Photo Credit: flickr.com/BrianKoprowski