Happy New Years!
We're all gearing up for the New Year and making our plans to celebrate. Every year, people gather together, pop champagne, eat snacks, go to parties, watch the ball drop on television, and finally: make New Years resolutions.
The New Years resolution is an interesting practice, and has been the fodder for a lot of jokes and criticisms over the years. I'm sure, at this point, that the resolution is now considered fat-phobic, racist, sexist, and any other -ist it needs to be in order to stop hurting people's feelings.
For a long time, people have used the brand new year to tell themselves they're going to change something about themselves, and make the resolution to change up bad habits or a lifestyle they know is not healthy or productive for them.
And to be honest, I'm not too critical of the thought. Now, I will admit: I used to have my jokes every new year. I used to compete in powerlifting, and so therefore spent plenty of my 20's in the gym. Every year, I would groan about all the “New Year Resolutionists” that would be flooding through the door, but I knew it wouldn't last long. For 2-3 months, the gym would be packed with all those people who decided it was finally time to get into shape, and then they would thin out and things would go back to normal.
I am more than willing to say the joke these days, but I'll be honest that I would have to make it with a lot less disgruntled nature and a lot more gentle, kind-hearted ribbing. My reason? I find myself more and more eager to see people succeed in transforming their own lives. I never thought ill of an overweight person wanting to get in shape, and I regularly encouraged and praised those who took the courage to step into a place that I realize can be intimidating. However, my issue revolved around the use of a single day to be the supposed “catalyst” needed to completely transform a life. At the core of it, I knew that most those people didn't really want to change. They loved the idea of change.
But all of that is besides the point. In my old and graying age, I've learned some wisdom and been able to put to rest some of the spunk that doesn't work for a man who devotes his life to discipling others and helping them transform their lives.
And that's exactly why I have a more wizened view on the matter. I won't say that I don't hate how low of a success rate the New Year's resolution has, but the principle still has value to it. Taking a day, and using that as the launch point for a strong and powerful method of discipline is something plenty of people do in their lives. Everything has to start somewhere, and having a plan in place to do it is what separates the wins from the losses.
January 1st is just a day, but it holds a lot of symbolism to all of us. It signals new birth. It's renewal. It's a fresh start. It provides hope and celebration. And before you decide I'm just waxing poetic: I want you to stop lulling yourself to sleep with the idea that any symbolism or meaning behind why we do what we do is just mumbo-jumbo. We celebrate things for a reason, and unfortunately, we've become utterly disconnected from the reasons for those celebrations. A new year is no different.
We should all take the New Years date and prepare our year accordingly. It's actually a common practice to prepare, and why shouldn't we prepare our year ahead, just as we may prepare our day, week or month?
The most successful people are all amazing planners. I'm not talking about the ones who fall into wealth, fame or fortune. I'm talking about the men and women who take an idea and are able to grow it exponentially. Whether we know their names or not, they've produced at high levels for years, and if you ask them for one single principle that got them where they need to go, they'd all swear by one thing: planning.
These people take lists, calendars, appointments, time blocking, etc extremely seriously. And so should you. I plan my days and my weeks. And without boasting, I have earned a reputation as one of the most organized people in the office. My lists, calendars and vision plans have inspired others to step up their game. I don't say this to boast, but only to point out that fruit is contagious. They've seen what has been produced by my organization, and they know that it can help them.
A New Year's resolution must move beyond the dreaming stage and go into the planning stage. If you really want to lose weight, eat healthier, grow a business, or spend more time with the family, then the question is: how are you planning on doing that?
Your resolution is probably amazing. It's probably a little dreamy, a little high-reaching, and something that if you get yourself alone and really think about it, is actually difficult to achieve. Good. But if you fail to plan, you're planning to fail.
That resolution does nothing when you try to attack it with pure motivational intensity and enthusiasm. You can only listen to “Eye of the Tiger” so many times before you stop imagining yourself as Rocky. The motivation will end at some point, and it so often comes when it's 5:30 in the morning and you're debating hitting the snooze for the fourth time. Motivation fails when you need it most. It can't drive the car when the engine is off. Instead, discipline is what makes you look at your shoes and say, “There's no other option.”
I'm telling you: plan. Get out your pen and paper, and figure out (with a loved one if need be) what it is actually going to take to win at this resolution. And honestly, I encourage you to set a resolution. When you have it, sit down and go through what each day is going to take and how each week would look realistically. Don't tell yourself that you'll get up at 3am every morning and workout for 1 hour before running 10 miles if you have never woken up before 8am and the last time you went on a run was for beer.
Set the final goal of the type of person you want to be, and work back from there. Give yourself more time than you need to achieve it. Maybe you want to be hard enough to do what I described above. There are people who are. But beware: there's something intrinsic in some people. So don't go measuring yourself against a David Goggins or Nims Purja.
For myself, I'm mentally preparing for a year that I've determined will be a year of discipline. We've been talking a lot about discipline lately, and I'm feeling strongly in my soul that this year needs to be a year of sacrifice to discipline.
What does that mean for me?
I sat down and wrote out the numbers of how many I wanted to do of each thing for the year. For example: I decided I want to do something physical every single day of the year, so that's 365 workouts. I wanted to go on a walk every day, plus 2 extra on the weekends. That's 469 walks. I want to fast a day every week, plus an extra fast every other week, coming in at 78 fasts in the year. I plan to write 3 new book manuscripts. Etc and so forth.
I've placed a lot on my plate. But I also know what I'm capable of. My days are already fairly organized, and these things I've selected hone in on the details of my disciplines. I already walk most days, fast a day a week, and try to get in my workouts. But sometimes, we need that extra spark and I know that taking on these tasks will help benefit me in plenty of other areas.
Some days, you have to sit down and decide if its worth it to sacrifice time in order to produce value. I feel as though this year is going to be a year for me to do that. I have other goals, including family and business goals, so don't think those got left out. And I've planned the numbers. This way, I will keep track of every single event and know how far or close I am to achieving my numbers. When I do this, I know that fruit will be produced effectively.
The planning process is so vital to the resolution, and I encourage you to make at least one resolution. You must plan on how you're going to achieve it though. If such a plan includes not eating excess sugar for a year, then you better figure out: how are you going to shop? How are you going to handle treats handed to you? What's your reasonable level of discipline and rejection of offers currently? After all, when somebody puts it in front of you and insists, the walls come down and the discipline easily switches to compromise. You need to know, what steps will you take to overcome temptation and setbacks? What weekly and daily goals, routines or plans need to be in place?
As an example: I want to do something physical every single day. Well, on Sundays, I tend to wake up, eat breakfast and go to church. Then, I often do something for lunch with the family, have a few hours and then head back into the church for the discipleship classes. So, I need to sacrifice something, and need to figure out what I can reasonably do. Is it waking up early even on a Sunday? Is it pushing myself to do something physical in that time between lunch and going back? Is it working out after I get home at say 7:30 or 9:30? You have to ask yourself these questions, and really be accurate with who you are to yourself. At that point, you can then figure out what makes the most sense for you.
If you can begin to answer some of those things for yourself, you'll find that this process is not the guaranteed failure so many people make it out to be. You'll grow into someone who is not just making a resolution, but is taking on transformation in their life. Those little steps will equal a great and magnificent change in life. Do what you need to do to make one of those changes. And become more than just a New Years Resolutionist...