The thrill of New Year’s Day is the prospect of a clean slate. After all the holiday indulgence, we set ourselves new goals, resolutions which feel hopeful and energizing. And we earnestly set about to meeting these goals with a spirited determination.
Soon, however, nature proves out and ideals are smothered under the weight of their ambition. Take fitness. There has been many a year where, after Christmas break, the locker room at my local health centre is suddenly over-crowded, noisy, and there are lineups at the equipment. I overhear guilty admissions of too much Christmas pudding and hopes for quick weight loss. True to form, after about six weeks things at the gym die down, as blood, sweat and tears take their toll and fitness goals are abandoned.
So what’s going on?
We put far too much pressure on ourselves at resolution time. And we set really lofty goals. Far more fun and sustainable is to set small achievable markers which one-at-a-time, as they are met, accumulate and create massive change in a relatively short period. There is none of the arbitrary deadline of a January 1 lift-off, and there is none of the disappointment if one lapses. One merely begins again as every day becomes New Year’s Day.
For example: I’m thinking about overall health. I may begin by cutting down on my Coffee Consumption. Once I achieve this small goal with some reliability, I move on to Cut Down on Wheat. This one may take me more time, but as I research the alternatives to a food substance that really doesn’t make me feel good, I begin to make substitutes. I gradually evolve an old way of eating into a new habit which is more energizing. Next aspiration? Meditation. Does anyone truly have huge chunks of alone time to devote to this wonderful pursuit? I have found I feel great getting in a mere 18 minutes a day – with soothing music on my smart phone – that lets me pop into the Buddha zone anytime and anywhere. It’s really interesting too, the consistent results this portable practice can bring. Next comes Working Out… OK, so admittedly this one is hardest, but I’ve learned that on a given day if a stretch is all I have energy for, a stretch is good for body, mind and spirit. I won’t beat myself up about not doing a scheduled endurance piece. Tomorrow I will do a low-and-slow, the next day interval training… And so on.
A major contributor to dissatisfaction with life is setting oneself impossible goals. Incremental little targets are sustainable and achievable. They are realistic and fun and can be negotiated in the recognition that the life of an engaged modern human is such that we simply cannot – and should not – aspire to superhuman ideals.
Happy New Year!
About Monica Renée Duncan
A periodical writer for over three decades, she is a new contributor to 3rdimagazine.
“I’ve had many spontaneous and unusual encounters with the divine. For that reason, I have a passionate belief in the power and capacity of the human spirit to evolve. But every new level we attain begins with a first step, the recognition that we need guidance and help. The universe provides, when we ask.”