Something felt different at the gym today.
I couldn’t put my finger on it at first, but finally it hit me: there were very few people working out, compared with the throng of just a couple weeks ago. The crowds in the gym in the first few weeks of the year had thinned out, the wait times for cardio machines had disappeared, and there was no more need to cut in between sets on the weight machines. People who had vowed to get fit (and possibly lose weight) on January 1st had already broken their resolutions.
That’s how it is every January. The end of one year and the start of another makes us take stock and decide that, once and for all, we will make positive changes in our lives: Get fit! Lose weight! Stop smoking! Learn Spanish! Find a new job! Save money! All of the above!
While roughly half of us make new year’s resolutions with the full intention of becoming better versions of ourselves, only about 8% achieve those goals. We start off strong, with the promise of a fresh start inspiring us, and then our resolve dwindles until we barely remember what we were aiming for in the first place. Eight weeks after our loud proclamations, we are back to our usual (perhaps lesser) selves.
But who says that goals to improve should only be made on January 1? Life — and the calendar — affords us daily opportunities for a fresh start. It is not limited to just once a year; you can renew your resolve any time you like. And for those of us who need a special date to make a commitment? Here are some suggestions:
- Chinese New Year , celebrated on February 16 this year, is right around the corner. 2018 is the Year of the Dog; according to one website, a Dog’s most defining characteristic is their loyalty and their willingness to help others fix their bad habits. Find a Dog friend to help you reach your goals!
- Lent (or Great Lent) is another great time to renew your resolutions to become a better version of yourself. Many denominations decide to give something up during the Lenten season, like chocolate or sugar or alcohol, but a friend of mine told me once that her father, a United Church minister, always advocated picking up a good habit during Lent rather than trying to give up a bad one. Sounds motivating to me!
- Summer Solstice, and the celebrations that surround this event, is an excellent mid-year opportunity to reflect on how you’re doing with your goals. Think of it as a mid-year performance review with yourself.
- Although I’ve been out of school for many years, the start of the new school year always seems like a fresh start to me. No matter how well (or not) I’m doing on my other resolutions, September is when I clean out my closets and junk drawers, creating space for new things and better habits to come into my life.
Whatever you celebrate, or don’t celebrate, know that every single day is a fresh start and another chance to commit to being the best version of yourself that you can be. Have you forgotten your new year’s resolutions already? Don’t despair. Decide today that you will be the best version of yourself that you can be. And then repeat again tomorrow. And again the next day. And the day after that.
Before you know it, you will be in the 8%.