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We do not need resolutions; we need a revolution: The relationship between resolutions, goals and habits.

Posted Dec 04 2012 4:59pm
My post yesterday has given me occasion to think about my goals for the coming year; both the specific and short quantifiable goals and the more long-term habitual goals that I would like to start honing in and developing.

While I was walking across the street to Lifetime Fitness to get in my lunchtime Runner's World Run Streak mile run,  I started to think about the life that I want to live and the changes that this lifestyle will require.  I have made some of these and maybe even the toughest of these already however there are more to come.  I still have work to do as this is a journey with no definitive ending.   

It went like a cause and effect for me, "I want this and in order to achieve this I need to do that and in order to do that I need to develop x, y, and z habits."

Getting changed in the locker room I stopped to think that maybe now is the time to lay out the dreaded R word - 'resolutions'.  Just then I tune into a service announcement being broadcast over the loudspeakers.

Sometimes things happen just when you need them too.  The announcement was an advertisement for the Commitment Day 5k on January 1st, 2013 with lifetime sponsoring a 5k in any number of cities.  Locally for us that is Detroit.   What grabbed my attention was one sentence, and almost on cue Lifetime answered my thought for me...


"We don't need resolutions.  What we need is a REVOLUTION."

Yes, yes,and YES! 

A healthy lifestyle is built upon a foundation of healthy habits, not resolutions.  We may resolve to quit smoking but it takes breaking the habit of smoking and developing a new habit to live in the hole the old habit occupied.  Chasing resolutions is like marking off a checklist, at the end you have a checklist but what else?  Are you healthier or more rounded?  If resolutions worked, why are we still making them?




What we need is a revolutionary change in ourselves and our thinking!   Resolutions are like bigger picture goals, if there is no plan on achieving them, and if we do not make real substantial changes to our core beings then how are we ever going to achieve them?


I then though of the goals I had set for myself in 2011 to work towards this year. The truth is that I accomplished a good portion of what I set out to do only falling short in the reading goal which, considering the year that I had, is not bad at all.
2012 Goals in Review
Goal: I wanted to Lose 30-40# through training for the Ironman and figuring out a lifestyle that works for me.  
Result:  ACCOMPLISHED!  I went whole foods plant strong (essentially vegan with the exception of honey, silk, leather, etc.) and dedicated myself to training not just putting in time.  The pounds melted away.  I ended up losing 50# in my journey to Ironman from November 2011 to November 2012.  Not too shabby, and the best thing is that the habits that I have build will be with me until I decide to change them. 

Goal: I wanted to take up stand up paddle boarding this year in addition to continuing to add rock wall climbing and yoga into my training as cross training activities to spend more time with Mike. 
Result:  ACCOMPLISHED!   I SUP'd in Florida this year, did not make it to rock wall climbing, but definitely made it back to yoga and have been really good at spending time with Mike and friends.

Goal:  Work out my mind by reading 12 books (last year I read 12 in the first three months!)
Result:  NOT ACCOMPLISHED.  I fell very short of this, and ready only around half.  I am coloring this orange and not red, because I at least made an effort to read more than normal, training for an Ironman limited my time available for sure.
 
While I may have or have not achieved specific goals, my habits definitely changed for the better.  I read more now than I did before 2012.  I weigh much less and am still losing weight and gaining strength due to those lifestyle changes that I made, and I am still excited to try new things and go back to the things that I love as opposed to sitting on the couch eating cheesy-poofs. 

I made real substantial changes in my lifestyle that are continuing to reward me every day. I am actually surprised that I have not gone back to old habits; I have ingrained these new habits into my life. So now on to 2013... what are some things that I want to start developing in 2013 to help me along in this journey?

Selfishly one of my top goals is to become a faster/stronger runner.  What will I need to do in order to achieve this goal?
Obviously I will need to run faster overall, which requires training in order to do so. In order to do this, I will need to be more consistent in my training overall.  Being consistent in anything leads to improvements and efficiency.  The body adapts quickly but we need to get past the early transitional resistance that we face which is the point that most people give up because it is, well, resistance. Our bodies do not like change for in historic times change meant something bad was happening.   The irony is that is modern times reluctance to change is what is killing us.
In order to be more consistent in my training I will need to exercise earlier in the mornings as rarely things have an opportunity to effect me in the morning like the things that pop up throughout the day do that derail my efforts. Stress is the number one of those things; stressors give me headaches and bad ones at that.

In order to be able and willing to be a morning exerciser, I have to become a morning person.  This means that I will need to develop the habit of the weekly planning of meals, training, and social activities to assure that I can get to bed at a decent hour in order to sleep enough hours and get up early enough to work out.

Part II of this also means that I need to learn to deal with stress better.  Yoga and meditation are going to be musts going forward. 
So to become a faster runner, I will need to wake up earlier and continue with my habits that I have recently started of meal and exercise planning, as well as continued meditation and yin yoga to keep me accountable and on track.  

See how this one simple goal actually involves my entire lifestyle?  If I want to achieve it then I have to have the lifestyle to make it happen.  Change rarely happens in a vacuum.  Obviously some habits will help achieve multiple goals. If we look at it as habits being the building blocks of our lifestyle foundation,  goals draw upon this foundation to become realized. The stronger the foundation the better the chances of goals being attained.


   So how do you all approach goals and resolutions?  Do you map them out as a plan to achieve them, or do you find yourself making the same resolutions and the same resistance to changing the things needed to be changed in order to fully achieve them?

My goals for 2013
  • Goal: Become a faster/stronger runner.
  • Habits that need to be developed/reinforced/continued: Consistency in training, Early morning exercise (i.e. stop being a night owl and get some sleep), put in effort not just time (i.e. be present in everything that I am doing not just sitting there watching the clock move), rehab/restorative exercises both physical and mental (i.e. meditation, journaling,  and yin yoga)
  • Results: The habit of morning exercise will help me stay consistent in my training which will aid me in achieving my training specific, long term goals i.e. being a stronger runner.
Try making a list of 2-3 things that you want to achieve over the course of 2013, these are your goals. Research shows that having a smaller list of goals to work on leads to a higher percentage of goal attainment as you can focus your efforts. real change takes commitment and work.  Habits that have taken a lifetime to develop will  not be changed overnight.  They say that it typically takes 30 days of continual focus to make the desired change a permanent habit. 30 days.

After you have your list  note the longer-term (possibly even life-long) habits that need to be developed, strengthened, or continued to make it work.  .

After that, write down the reason that these habits will support your goal.  If you find that you cannot make the connection then you are looking at either the wrong habits or the wrong goal.
There is definitely a time and a place for time sensitive goals; I think that if we make the connection between resolutions, goals and habits we will be more successful in the new year (and every year), since we will be moving forward and not just across a checklist of finite to-do's.  
#RWRunStreak update:
Going strong and today's mile was just under 9:15 for 1 mile!  Last night's 4 mile run was sub 10 minute miles as well... I feel a change a coming! A hard earned and worth working for change.
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