I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting lately.
First I reflected on the gargantuan difference that a single year can make.
Then yesterday I whittled all that I learned in 2012 down into 12 easily digestible lessons, most of which should be fairly easy for anyone to relate to. (And even if not, each lesson is accompanied by an excellent song or two, thus guaranteeing, at a minimum, some pleasant audible entertainment.)
Reflecting is certainly not an abnormal activity to engage in this time of year. Something tells me that you probably have been doing a bit of it yourself.
But now that we have all stepped firmly into day #2 of 2013, the time for reflecting has ended, and the time for looking forward is nigh.
For many people, that means making New Year’s resolutions, which can take on so many different shapes, sizes, and varieties. Of course, as we all know, most New Year’s resolutions fail. (And if you don’t know, just Google “why new year’s resolutions fail.” There are close to a million results.)
My past is littered with failed New Year’s resolutions. For example, there was the “MSF Wellness Challenge” from 2011 that lasted all of about a week. And you need only glance at my physical condition at the end of 2011 to realize that I didn’t do much of anything to improve my wellness that entire year.
I was thinking about this earlier today – my many failed New Year’s resolutions – when I tried to remember what my resolution was last year. Ah yes, “The Discipline Project.”
I had grand plans for this as a post series, but ironically (or perhaps…appropriately?) it fizzled after only two follow-up posts because I lacked the – wait for it – discipline to follow through.
But a funny thing happened in the wake of abandoning The Discipline Project at the end of 2012: I ended up turning 2012 into one my most disciplined and rewarding years ever, as chronicled here.
While the post series itself was a failure, the simple idea – the resolution – to recommit to a more disciplined lifestyle did, in fact, work. There were many reasons for this. As I reflected back on the end of 2011 and the beginning of 2012, I know that entering the new year with “become more disciplined” as a mindset helped lay the foundation for the many positive improvements I experienced in 2012.
Protecting Positive Momentum
Well if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, I say.
And if a simple general resolution worked for 2012, it can work for 2013 too. That is why my mindset entering this year, my commitment to myself, is simply this: protect my positive personal momentum.
And I use the word protect as opposed to maintain because it is a much stronger verb that suggests constant vigilance. Protect suggests that its object – that which is being protected – is of great importance. And yes, in this case, it most certainly is.
Momentum in anything is powerful. We often discuss in a sports context, where one team starts to have things go their way and it seems to create a snowball effect where good begets more good. The reverse is also true.
Momentum is just as powerful in our everyday personal lives.
A quick example: The decision to eat fast food lunch can make you sluggish. This can compel you to skip your nighttime workout. Then you don’t sleep well that night. The lack of sleep disrupts your appetite. You make another bad food choice in the morning. You skip another workout. And on and on it goes. Before you know it, you’ve gained weight, you aren’t sleeping well, and you are habitually making poor eating choices, and the negative momentum builds on itself day after day.
But simply by turning self-defeating, unproductive choices into positive ones, we can immediately start building positive momentum. And it too can build on itself and carry us forward in a good way.
And this where a little dose of primility (balancing pride and humility) comes in.
It is important to take pride in positive change. And we should be proud of ourselves when we eschew the easy path to make tough choices that produce positive results. But there comes a certain point where we may think we’ve “arrived.” We may say, Well hey, I’ve lost 30 pounds! I’ve succeeded! And then we drop our guard, become a little lax in our decision-making, and eventually the momentum pendulum swings back in the other direction.
This is when we need some humility to remind us where we came from, and why became so proud in the first place. The humility will help us to protect our positive momentum, because it will remind us that we haven’t really “arrived.” There is no destination when it comes to improving ourselves. It’s a daily journey. There is no trophy at the end, but rather the perpetual reward of greater happiness and fulfillment.
Positive personal momentum must be protected at all costs. And we do it with choices. Sometimes it requires tough choices, which we sometimes don’t feel like making, but the benefit is always worth it. And it gets easier the further down the road we go. Which is why it’s so worth staying on track.
One Simple Resolution
So that’s it. That’s my one resolution for 2013. Nothing fancy, nothing drastic.
I had a great 2012, filled with a number of changes that brought me many positive results and created a good deal of positive momentum. Now I just want to protect that momentum.
I didn’t set out at the beginning of 2012 specifically hoping to watch less TV, eat significantly better, start going to yoga 5-6 times a week, and getting out more socially. Each of these improvements and many more were the organic result of entering with the mindset of becoming more disciplined.
I know that if I simply focus on protecting my positive personal momentum in this new year that there will be many additional positive changes I’ll experience in 2013 that I can’t even predict.
And even if that doesn’t happen, if I just make it to the end of 2013 simply without taking a step back, I’ll consider it a success. Because that’s happened before – good habits and good intentions yo-yo’ing back to bad ones. So learning to keep positive momentum going strong, after the initial wave of energy to build it has subsided, will be in and of itself positive growth and a strong step forward.
To do it, I just have to protect my positive personal momentum. I resolve to do so.
What are your resolutions for 2013? Do you have one or many?
How will you hold yourself accountable to them?