We tend to over-complicate New Year's resolutions and instead need to "show up, open up, and see what happens from there."
What is it about resolutions that makes me feel like I messed up my entire prior year—and perhaps my entire life?
Everyone and their brother (myself included) preaches about not making resolutions for a long time. “It’s a lifestyle!” Fill in the blank whatever “it” is. Make the last 90 days of the year great! Forget resolutions.
And I agree, wholeheartedly.
Except, well, the whole concept of a “new year” has a ring of turning over a new leaf, fresh start, and rebirth. The New Year by its very title conjures a feeling of a fresh start. But also, perhaps, that we are broken, defective, and in need of a whole-life overhaul.
To those who feel like they are living their dreams on a daily basis, the New Year is a celebration of all those amazing accomplishments, accolades, and successes. (Will those people please stand up so we can glare at you with envy and awe?)
For those of us who are trying to get our shiznit together, hold ourselves sane, learning to breathe and not crack—all while trying to swim, bike, and run and PR, too!—the past year may feel like a nightmare, and the hope of the new one is even more daunting.
How will I change everything? How will I be successful this time in my goals? What makes this year different?
The answer? Well, it might very well be: nothing.
Absolutely nothing is technically different about a New Year. Absolutely nothing by default will change, and we can’t change everything at once. Except that’s often exactly what we need—a whole life overhaul—but where to start on overhauling our lives is entirely too daunting.
So what does this have to do with triathlon—or fitness—for that matter?
Well, for one, we often begin our New Year with promises to eat better, work out harder, train like we mean it, or finally accomplish that ___ race.
Maybe we have kept these promises in the past, and maybe we haven’t.
But one thing that is true: when we decide to change something, we want results. We need to see and feel the benefits (in a decent period of time, too). Further, it needs to be relatively painless to implement the changes in order to continue to feed off of them. The problem with our resolutions historically is that we make them painful, illogical, or impossible to reach in any reasonable time.
When we are thinking about changing our lives or our fitness, we should begin with something small. Something so microscopic that it’s easy to implement, perfect to develop a habit around and where results will be felt sooner rather than later. Something that we can’t possibly think actually means big change.
For me, I had the biggest resolution-style change when I literally stumbled into a Spinning class taught by Gerry Halphen in 2009. I knew I needed a change in my life—in my health—but didn’t know how, what, when or where.
I just showed up.
I unknowingly started the process by moving my body, by meeting Gerry, and learning from him. But the summary is that I just moved my body and did something. By showing up to class, I created a change that changed everything. Taking that first step towards better was just the catalyst I needed to grow, change and implement habits that have continued to pay dividends in day to day life.
In triathlon, life or career—when thinking about resolutions and change—I like to identify one small thing that I know needs to change. It is that small, gut instinct I feel that is often one thing I can tackle that will create a ripple that later creates a wave—leading to precisely that whole-life overhaul process I might be craving.
When we break it down to small pieces, then there is only one resolution ever: simply show up to the day. Show up to the place where things could be different. Meet a new person who could be part of this process.
Show up, open up, and see what happens from there. That is the only resolution we’ll ever need.
Meredith Atwood (@SwimBikeMom) is a recovering attorney, motivational speaker and author of Triathlon for the Every Woman: You Can Be a Triathlete. Yes. You. She is the host of the podcast, The Same 24 Hours. Meredith recently moved to Overland Park, Kansas with her husband and two children and writes about all things at MeredithAtwood.com. She has a second book due out Fall 2019.