Not So New Resolutions For The New Year

Have you heard about New Year's resolutions enough yet? We all know it's going to come, and with the prevalence of social media, it gets blasted through the internet into everyone's feeds. The news and entertainment sites come up with an array of articles taking a look at this tired tradition. I, too, get sucked into an article here and there.

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Some people make their resolutions known to their friends and followers. According to articles in the digital abyss, I've heard that this is good or bad depending on what you're reading. One article says it's bad, because while the act of saying it out loud makes the person feel better about themselves, it actually only tricks the brain into thinking it has already accomplished the goal. With each repeat, the person is less likely to follow through. Another article says it's good, because the act of making it public keeps a person accountable.

I would wager a guess that follow-through on a resolution probably has more to do with the person than the method behind its success or failure. Although, having clear, concise, and measurable goals is necessary. Are you someone who is successful when setting out to accomplish something? Do you need support from others or are you self-made? If you are already driven to succeed, success being defined by the individual, then you may not need a new year to drag out the same old resolutions. Or, perhaps, you will come up with some new ones, you wonderfully creative individual!

However, a new year can be a great time to hit the reset button. Why? Mind frame. People can trick their brains into believing anything. The effect of this trickery can be positive or negative. Also, we get sucked into tradition and the "way it is and supposed to be." Why don't calendars start in the spring? Why can't the first month of the year be in March? In the least, why doesn't the new year start on a solstice or equinox? Why even have a new year? Of course, weather doesn't obey the calendar, so that's hardly a reliable indicator. My wife and I have spent years getting our daughter to understand that. Some adults don't seem to.

So, we all carry this mind frame that a new year, new calendar, new tax season etc is a type of rebirth in our lives, and that's not a bad thing. We celebrate the end of one year and welcome in another. We throw away the prior year's calendar and we set up the new one. Some may despair, noting the passage of time, but most people are optimistic and welcome the free therapy it provides. Last year was the young, foolish me. This year, I will become invincible.

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But, wait! December 31st and January 1st are just random days we attach meaning to. In the grand scheme we call Earth time, in the northern part of the continental United States, it's just two cold days huddled together to stay warm. I know this as I live it. Perhaps the acknowledgement of a new year has more to do with people in the colder climates needing a reminder that the year IS new and therefore warmer weather will be heading back to them soon with a sweaty embrace. Oh, what a sweetie that summer!

Living in modern times does have its perks. Winter is very livable, much more so than the distant and not so distant past. Homes are easier to warm and keep warm, and we have wonderful transportation opportunities that keep us comfortable at even the coldest points of winter. Winter isn't so bad, really, maybe it just needs a little love. Some people do winter activities outside and thrive on it, and while I don't, what winter does provide me is the opportunity to focus on being inside and taking advantage of that.

My wife started running seriously last year, and we recently bought a treadmill so she can continue training easily through the winter. Sometimes, she does this while watching shows on her iPad. A great way to accomplish two things. Multi-tasking rocks! I see the winter as an opportunity to focus on my music. I also tend to allow myself more time to sit on the computer and work on all kinds of things that move my life forward, my maniacal scheming, and for just plain ole entertainment. Wait... I suppose I mean to say I do those things more during the school year, not just the winter.

Either way, throughout the year, I try to keep on swimming and do my best to be better and do better along the way. Am I successful? Sometimes. And when I'm not, I try to learn from it. I like to make gradual change at a pace that can be sustained and modified as conditions allow. I find that abrupt, sudden, restrictive change only makes me resistant. Do my methods work? Most of the time, but it's dependent upon two things: drive and trackability.

If you truly have the drive to do something, no one has to remind you or push you to do it. The thought is ingrained. The focus is laser sharp. The want is strong. It takes a massive road block to thwart progress. And, if this thwarting does happen, as it will occasionally, the drive will still be there throughout and will continue after the road block has been cleared. If a person really wants to be successful in a thwart-ful situation, then this has to be looked at as an opportunity of sorts. "This sucks now, but how can I gain from this when it's all done and things are back to normal." I try to do this whenever I can. See the "Sump Chump" series for an epic example.

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Trackability is important.  A person has to have the drive to track something in the first place, but it can be easy to lose drive if they feel lost in what they're doing or trying to accomplish. Not only does tracking remind them of where they're at, it also reminds them of how far they've gotten since they started. That in itself is a great motivator. Or, maybe, it just makes them sad showing what they haven't accomplished. I've been on both sides of that divide. Either way, it forces a person to be honest with themselves​ about their goals and the effort they put forth. It should offer a learning experience as well. For example, am I being realistic? Did I really try my hardest? Is this really what I want?

I'm a person who's big on making lists. They help remind me and that can make life much more efficient, productive, successful, and enjoyable. I also make A LOT of organized notes. I have a variety of different projects going on, and I need to know where I'm at with them at all times. Also, I try and capture as many ideas and thoughts that come into my head as I can. When they come to me while I'm driving is the worst! I would never be able to balance it all without lists, notes, scheduling, and tracking. It helps me to excel. It gives me warm fuzzies. Why should I expect a new goal to be any different? Why should you?

So, do I really have room in my life for New Year's resolutions? Yes and no. I'm already someone who seeks improvement. It's already built into my make-up. I already have things I want to accomplish this year and goals on top of that. Where does this leave a resolution? I decided to look it up and see what the definition is. What I found was this: a firm decision to do or not do something. Essentially, quitting or starting something.

I have been thinking about shedding a few pounds, getting back down to my pre-marriage weight at least. Before my wife and I started "dating," I was doing a lot of drumming. I had found a meal schedule and food varieties that worked for me. Introducing my wife and two older kids to the mix completely changed that. I haven't been able to find my way back since. I know HOW to do it, but I have to make it work for me in my current life. I need the motivation. I need the drive. Then, I need to track it.

Progress, or the lack of, will most likely be a post in the future.

But then again...

I could always resolve to eat a five pound burger. Some food establishments have challenges like that. I could get my picture on the wall. Then, I could resolve to never do that again. Anything's possible. This year, I'm invincible!

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Winter photos by Christine Sedam

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