Sensible and Successful New Year’s Resolutions

Sensible and Successful New Year’s Resolutions was written by Stephen R. Santangelo. This article originally appeared in ATRA’s Trail Times newsletter published in December 2015. How are your New Year’s resolutions going? Are you keeping them?

Though the New Year is filled with excitement and adventurous possibilities, it can also bring about frustrations and disappointments, many of which are related to resolutions.

There are two types of personalities who make resolutions, the “Over Zealous Pie in the Sky” folks and those – the more successful resolution achievers – who look at life and take “One Step at a Time.”
The Over Zealous personality goes full throttle and makes an infinite number of resolutions without any thought process to support them. The end result is often failure. As with all events in life becoming overwhelmed can be destructive in achieving goals. When setting goals as in running, education, dental habits, social habits or chores around the home it is imperative to have a plan. Therefore, one must map out a plan that works and is attainable, regardless, of what may come into our lives. There will always be events and circumstances which we do not see coming – or we don’t want to see coming – that will interfere with our daily lives.

Develop a frame of reference. Within that frame, outline your choices and how to approach them. We do this with our running, so, why not in the rest of our lives. As in running, we structure training based upon daily goals, weekly goals, monthly and annual goals. Successful training comes when each of our goals are met in the mini-cycle as well as the macro-cycle in our structured program. We discover our weaknesses and prioritize our training to meet those goals so we can move to the next level. This is how everything in life works, especially, in our chosen careers. To move up the corporate ladder, we must continuously achieve success at a given level. We do this through careful planning and staying focused on, and keeping our immediate goals within reach. Maintaining one or two goals and succeeding at reaching those will be far better than having many goals with little or no success. Setting too many goals is a recipe for failure.

In our running regimen, we strive to complete a daily workout with specific goals. We do not take a weekly goal and cram it into a single training session. One day we do intervals, another day we do strength and conditioning and a third day we go out for a long run to simply enjoy the scenery along the trails. Each of these workouts fills a specific need within the overall training program and help one attain specific results when it comes to race day. It would be impossible to train all three protocols in one session without sacrificing quality. Take one step at a time and make resolutions attainable by keeping simplicity and structure at the forefront.

Next, we need to be able to translate our plans and resolutions into reality. This isn’t always easy. Again, this will only be attainable by taking one step at a time with short term goals leading to long term gains. Don’t be all over the map. This only leads to chaos and dysfunctional behavior.

Successful resolutions are reached only if one’s behavior is changed to accommodate goals. Resolutions do not magically happen. Resolutions become successful through change which is behavioral, and goals will not happen if you become complacent. Complacency means you are not willing to change. It’s hard for all of us to look in the mirror and accept we’re not perfect. Fear not, there are ways and means to effect change. We all have bad habits which have developed over the years. Be honest with yourself. Get out of your comfort zone and make a change.

Just as in running, we learn to get out of our comfort zone by making changes in our training program. Look at life as one BIG race with many training sessions in between. Just as we practice our running every day, practice new habits every day and change your attitude. Too often if someone hits a snag or a setback in their goals, they suddenly get frustrated and quit. Not every day is going to be successful. Not every workout is going to be successful. We learn to cope with setbacks and return the next day to aggressively pound the surface to make this workout even better. Do the same with everyday life. Your commitment to being the best runner you can is built upon coping with frustrations and understanding why your training session did not go as planned.

So, why not take this attitude into other aspects of your daily living? Learn to accept setbacks. For every setback you face, you will learn to recommit, refocus and move forward. If you fall, stumble or get pushed off the trail in a race, do you quit? No! You get right back up and continue with a new mind set.

Consider two formidable and well-intentioned sayings; Laozi’s, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” and that of Confucius, “To move a mountain you begin with a single stone.”

New Year’s resolutions are meant to be successful and bring you happiness. Make yours happen this year and find a trail running race near you!

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