Years ago I had the pleasure of managing a gym, and the start of the new year brought in a wave of people into the facility, which predictably receded well before Spring. It seems as though New Year’s resolutions are the kiss of death for most individuals’ efforts at self-improvement.
The problem with most plans is that the mind is in the wrong place from the start. The individual says “I’m going to go to the gym more often,” or “I’m going to eat healthier foods.” The heart is in the right place, but the mind is not. There’s a reason why they say the road to hell is paved with good intentions…
Instead of doing something, you should be something. Instead of saying, “I’m going to do more running this year” you should say, “I am a runner.” In one case you’re asserting the desire to engage in an activity and in the other the activity is integral to who you are. Psychologically, these two positions seem to be only off by degrees, but when you plot out the vectors they produce, on a long enough timeline the differences are profound.
It always puzzles me to see people go on drastic diets or exercise programs. They swing life’s pendulum wildly in one direction and convince themselves that it isn’t going to come barreling back the other way. They enter into an exercise program that leaves them unable to walk for days on end, get discouraged and then give up because they didn’t scale the workouts to their ability level. They go cold-turkey on drinking or smoking or eating — or whatever the vice may be — and then fall right back into bad habits because they never properly committed to the right lifestyle to begin with.
When you take possession of a lifestyle, questions disappear. You don’t have to wonder whether or not you should have that extra piece of cake — you just don’t. You don’t have to wonder whether or not you’ll exercise the next day — you know that you will. It’s what you do because it’s who you are.
Over a year ago I severely injured my shoulder. I couldn’t lift my left arm up to wash my hair and had nights where I couldn’t sleep because of the pain. Needless to say, when I finally was able to start exercising again my weakest exercise — the pullup — was even worse. I made a rule: Any time I exited or entered my room I would do a set of pullups. Over time I got stronger … and stronger … and stronger, until one day I realized my pain was gone, my mobility had returned, and what was once a weakness was now one of my strengths. It took almost a year for that reality to unfold, but it all began with a mental directive that while the timeline was negotiable, the end result was not.
Mother Nature uses time and pressure to mold the physical world around us, but I firmly believe we too can use the very same methods to achieve success, wealth, health and happiness in our own lives. Once you honestly determine the person you are, your mind will seek out ways to bend reality to your will and you’ll attract the kind of company into your life needed to assist you in your endeavors. Make that switch from doing to being and check in with me three, four or five years down the road. My bet is that you will have done away with the practice of making big New Year’s resolutions in favor of constantly recalibrating the little things, which reaffirm and enhance the better person you’ve become.