I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there has been a major glut in ‘Why New Year’s Resolutions Suck’ posts since the turn of the year.
The strange thing is that even thought people spend a lot of time griping about how awful they are, they still seem to make them. And the biggest issue with any kind of resolution is the kick in the teeth you get when you fail.
This isn’t one of those posts, I promise.
But I did set myself some monthly goals to achieve this year, starting with January’s 3: eating right, daily exercise and daily writing. And success for these is largely subjective: whatever I deem good enough is good enough.
This week, though, I had my attempts to follow-through on my resolutions kicked squarely up the butt by a friend – and completely inadvertently on his part, too.
A bad start
Daily exercise is something I’ve always struggled with. As I’ve written about before, I throw myself into things that are beyond my capability and end up injured, demoralised or ill. Or all three. Which sucks.
The idea of my daily exercise goal wasn’t to hop on a get-fit-quick bandwagon and end up in my usual situation of running for two days then realising I can’t run then abandoning all hope of ever being able to run and then wallowing in a pit of junk-food-laden self-pity on the couch. It was designed to follow the little-and-often maxim and, hopefully, to develop positive habits for the rest of the year.
But I didn’t.
Getting in from work in the evening I’d be tired, it would be cold outside, I’d not really want to go anywhere other than the sofa and my bed.
And I wasn’t sleeping well, despite being tired.
Then, on Monday night, I read an update on Facebook that said:
I have exercised every day since New Year. Today I have clocked up 90 mins of brisk walking. Not much to some but for me that’s impressive seeing as this time last year I could barely stand up without excruciating pain. #grateful
That one word hashtag at the end (let’s leave aside how irritating and pointless hashtags on Facebook are for a moment, because I like this dude and, well, it seemed to work!) made all the difference to me.
I know GB (the dude in question) had a rough ride over the last few years, to which he alludes in the post. And I realised that my lack of inspiration and motivation to get out there and do anything at all to try to develop positive habits and achieve my goals wasn’t just lazy; it was ungrateful.
All of a sudden, from apparently nowhere, I was hit by a stark realisation: of all the things I’ve used to try to drive me, of all the motivational videos I’ve YouTube’d, all the incentives I’ve tried to give myself, none will ever be as strong as the feeling that I’m not being grateful enough for my life.
My donor has afforded me opportunities I genuinely never thought I’d have and although I say I’m grateful and thankful every day, my actions seem to belie those words.
It’s time for me to live what I believe, to match my deeds to my thoughts, to accept the hard things and to remember there’s always someone worse off than more. It’s time to smile through it…
Find your own gratitude
The point is we all have our own spur. We all have something that will connect with us, drive us, keep us going when it gets really tough.
It’s not always apparent what this is and, while we may think we’ve nailed it, a large part of the reason we fail at things like New Year’s resolutions is that we haven’t truly found our motivational force.
For me, it took the example and evidence of gratitude – and my own fears and desires not to be seen as ungrateful – to find the thing that gets me off the sofa and out into the cold, dark evening to walk the village as I have done since Monday.
For you, it may be the motivation of a big challenge, to raise money for charity or dedication to supporting someone else. Whatever it may be, don’t try to find it in anyone else: it will be yours and yours alone.
Have you found yours yet? Let us know what it is in the comments below or on Twitter.