Jan 2nd – My #FinishYear begins!

Photo credit to Idea Go via freedigitalphotos.net

So, Summer asked me yesterday what I resolved to do this year.  You see, for some reason, that’s something that people do in an around the first of January.  If I am honest with myself, I used to make resolutions, and have for several years … though I can think of very few that I actually accomplished.

It was this history of (let’s be honest) failure at meeting these life goals, that prompted me to think about and complete my 30 While 30 List, the journey that I have been on this whole year, starting on March 10th 2011, and which will end on March 9th of this year … just over 60 days from now.  So, this year, January 1st wasn’t as meaningful a day for me as it might have been in past years.  This year, January 1st was not unlike any other day.

Which got me thinking about something I’ve talked about before several times on this blog:

It got me thinking about the power in new beginnings.  In discovering potential in each day.

You see, most resolutions fail (and by many “scientific accounts” – last only until about February, if you’re lucky – and committed).  I believe that most people, including myself, fail at achieving their resolutions for the following reasons:

1. They believe the hype of the New Year.  We work ourselves up into a tizzy this time of year (maybe it’s because we got lots of new shiny things just a few days before – many of which we will commit to use religiously) and we get a tingly feeling of the magic of the season when the date goes from one year to the next.  Funny thing about magic though (the Copperfield kind – not the Harry Potter kind – that stuff?  That stuff is just awesome – and on a side note, would make resolutions terribly easy, right?  One wave of a wand and ‘poof’ I’m a Backstreet Boy lighter than I was 20 seconds previously.) ….

Wait, where was I?  Oh, yeah.  The thing about magic is that what seems magical is actually about practice, planning, and hard work.  A good magic act, one that leaves you mesmerized and in awe, is the product of a hard working magician, and very likely, a dedicated staff with him (or her) behind the scenes.

Which brings me to #2:

2. We think that changing ourselves for the better is going to be easy.  Let me clue you in: it’s not.  And not because the goal is hard, but because we are creatures that LOVE our habits.  I don’t mean habits of behavior only, I mean habits of behavior, emotions, beliefs and thoughts.  We live our lives the way that we do because more times than not, no matter what kind of chaos we are in, we choose to stay there because in some strange way we’re comfortable.  To change anything about ourselves is inherently uncomfortable.  It’s like emotional inertia.  We have strong tendencies to keep going the way we are going just because we’ve always been heading that direction.  In your car, try turning 180 degrees on the interstate and tell me that it felt like daffodils and a warm summer breeze.

3. We think that changing ourselves for the better is going to be too hard.  We are our worst critics.  Let me share with you some of my greatest failures this year:

  • I will only lose 30 pounds.
  • I didn’t make it up Pike’s Peak.
  • It’s hard finding a place to jump in really cold water when New Year’s Eve was 60 freaking Degrees.
  • I feel like I let my family down by not finishing my grandfather’s novel.
  • I feel like I’m going to be on blood pressure medicine forever.

So … every one of those statements are true.  You know the problem with those statements?

My perspective.  Many people (me being one of them) have given up on goals that they have had because:

  1. It’s all or nothing. – Either we quit smoking, or we smoke another cigarette and fail.  We translate partial successes as total failures.
  2. We don’t give ourselves credit. – The pace is slower than we want, and we begin to believe the lie that we are not the type of person to complete something great or different in our lives.  We haven’t succeeded at (enter task or change here) so we begin to convince ourselves that we never will.

So what can you do to make this year different from the last?

1. Don’t just start something.  Finish it.  I posted last week about Jon Acuff’s (@JonAcuff on twitter, or www.jonacuff.com) challenge for 2012 to be a year of finishing things.  No matter the size, no matter how long, commit to see it through to the end.  As Stephen Covey would say: “Begin with the end in mind”.

2. Give yourself credit.  Don’t make a giant list of things you have never been able to accomplish.  Start your list with a few “Continue to’s”.  Start your resolution list with things you have already mastered and that you commit to doing.  Fall in love again with the things you are great at and which are things to showcase in your life.

3. Make small moves.  Plan.  Set dates.  Break big things down into little things.  Want to lose 50 pounds?  That’s pretty daunting.  How about trying to lose one pound a week?  That sounds a little more doable.  Want to read 25 books in the year?  Yikes!  How about 2  a month?  Want to run a marathon?  Start with a mile.

4. Gather a team.  David Copperfield can’t put on a show alone.  Harry had Ron and Hermione.  Any bit of magic on the planet (even the magic of New Year’s) begins with surrounding yourself with people who believe in you sometimes more than you believe in yourself.

For that reason, I am committing to sharing with you the comment I made on Jon’s Blog about what I plan to finish this year (whether it is before or after my March 10th, 2012 “30 While 30” deadline):

Jon, thanks for posting on this topic.  On March 10, 2010, I turned 30.  As part of that, I committed to completing a “30 While 30” list of goals.  I have learned so much, having been able to complete several things:

1. Ran multiple races (2 5k races, 1 10k, and my first half-marathon – St. Jude’s in Memphis, TN)
2. Made an attempt to summit Pike’s Peak (high winds – 90mph – and snow kept me from the top)
3. Learned to ride a motorcycle (and get my license)
4. Went vegetarian for a month.

Another of my goals was to start blogging regularly which I have been accomplishing by chronicling the journey – www.thomsthoughts.wordpress.co…

I’ve also learned about “trying to do too much”, or as you mentioned, “putting too much on my plate”. My next year (which will start probably in March, to mark my birthday) I plan to finish:

1. Build my “dream” website to start marketing my skills by March 10, 2012.
2. Finish writing my grandfather’s novel by NaNoWriMo 2012 (November).
3. Reading 12 non-fiction books in the year (I tried to get 30 this year, but I will probably finish 20 – 30 is A LOT of reading – even when I put my Anatomy and Physiology textbook on there 😛 )
4. Lose an additional 20 pounds.
5. Complete the Warrior Dash in TN (September 2012).

That list will likely grow – it was just what was on my mind at the time.

I’ll also be expanding this blog past my 31st birthday, to continue the journey, not just of my 30th year, but every year … but not just every year – every season, month, and week, as I walk through changes to better not only myself, but those around me.

Now … that you’ve made it to the end:

What can you give yourself credit for this year?

Who is on your team?

What small moves can you make, even just today, towards your 2012 resolutions?

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