I was planning to write about New Year’s Resolutions, and then I came across this article in Men’s Journal (www.mensjournal.com) by Laird Hamilton. It is a terrific article and definitely worth a read. Couldn’t have said it better myself. Enjoy!
THE MENTAL GAME
Seven ways to stick to your New Year’s Resolutions.
By Laird Hamilton.
There’s all this information out there about how to eat right and how to get in shape. By now, most of us have a pretty good handle on what changes we should make in our lives. The problem is that we don’t know how to get ourselves to actually make them. Whether we’re trying to cut our processed foods, get fit or lose one bad habit or another, the biggest obstacle is always mental. Everything we want to do in life requires discipline. And like strength, flexibility and endurance, it can be built up over time. You just need some tricks to keep you motivated until the changes you’ve made become their own motivation. By then, you’ll be on your way.
DO IT IN THE MORNING:
Early in the day is the best time to face whatever daunting or taxing things you have to do. We’re fresher and more positive in the morning; the day hasn’t had its way with us yet. It’s the best time to implement a new routine.
KEEP YOUR WORD TO YOURSELF:
My mom used to say, “If you can’t be true to yourself, you can’t be true to anyone.” Maybe that’s why I still feel guilty when I don’t keep my word to myself. I think we all do. If you make a promise to yourself, don’t you wan to honor it? There are lots of aspects of our lives we don’t have control over, but we do have control of ourselves. That’s one thing you can own.
FEEL LUCKY THAT YOU HAVE TO WORK OUT:
Think how fortunate you are to be physically capable of doing it – and that you live in a place that affords you the freedom and safety to do it. Having to force yourself to exercise is a rich person’s problem. But no matter what your economic situation, if there’s an hour in the day for you to work out, you’re way ahead of many other people in this world. When you start looking at it as a luxury, that kind of cuts out a lot of your excuses right there.
DO IT FOR OTHER PEOPLE:
Of course, that new fitness regimen will help cure our aliments and ensure you live a longer life, but it also makes you better company. As my friend the fitness guru Don Wildman says, “It just takes the piss and vinegar out of you.” If I don’t train in the morning, I’m just not as good a person. And I’m not as good a person to the people I love – my family, my woman, my friends. And my tolerance for stress is a lot lower.
It’s interesting how things that are bad for us are almost always instantly gratifying – boozing; lying around on the couch; eating fatty, sugary, fried food – while everything with real positive effects takes longer to appreciate. It takes a week or more to start feeling the benefits of not eating flour or sugar or adopting a new fitness regime or curbing the digital distractions in your life. (In fact, you’ll probably feel worse before you feel better.) The key is not to give up just because you’re not seeing immediate changes. Eventually, though, the results become your motivation. All the good results will compound: You sleep better, you eat better, and you start seeing tangible results – I improved my time or ran farther or lifted more or lost more weight – and the self-discipline increases.
BUILD ON THE WILLPOWER YOU ALREADY HAVE:
Every successful person has a fair amount of self-control – it’s just the nature of success. And since you have the formula for discipline, it’s easy to change the activity and apply it to other parts of your life. If you can get to work on time every day, you’re disciplined enough to get to the gym regularly or to cut back on refined sugar in your life. And then, rather than trying to change everything at once, build on the small victories you’ve won and implement new changes incrementally.
COMFORT = DEATH
One of the big challenges to our willpower is knowing that whatever change we’re trying to make is going to involve some discomfort, and we all naturally avoid it. But there’s value in being uncomfortable. It’s a little bit like getting a massage. The more pain you can endure, the greater the benefit. When it comes to exercise, you’re going to be sore. There’s just no way around it. And so when you wake up, and you’re sore, and you don’t want to work out, that’s the crucial time to do it. And you won’t regret it. You never regret it.
Great, right? Which of the seven ways to stick to your New Year’s resolutions resonated most with you?