Did you make a New Year’s resolution? Is it still going strong? Maybe you’re downright opposed to New Year’s resolutions, like some folks I know.
Some feel setting a goal sets us up for disappointment, should we fail to reach it, or even if we achieve it – because of the melancholy that can follow after the climax. Especially during the doldrums of wintertime, am I right?
I feel that. Only recently did I emerge from a deep pit of depression after withdrawing from a 101K I was supposed to run in December. I pulled the plug in early November, weeks after I’d completed my first 50K. I figured I would be trained up, so I’d keep the train a rollin’, right? It might be my only shot to ride the wave and reach a distance I never dreamt possible.
In reality, my body broke down. After 32 weeks of training, I was shot. The joy of running, the one treatment that’s never let me down, was gone. I dreaded going out, even though I freaking love winter running.
So what was I, if not a runner?
What did I have to work toward? I fell off the peak of the mountain. But I’m grateful I survived. I gave myself grace and took some time off, and I’m happy to report I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my first couple of runs in 2022. The jolt of feel-good chemicals, the productive days that followed. It was like I’d reunited with my best friend.
The moral of the story is that my resolution for 2022 is simple: If we don’t enjoy the process, if we lose the joy in the journey, we’re in deep doo doo. So my take is that as you set a goal (a resolution, if you will), it needs to serve you. And you need to set it with the goal of making life better in the long run. Streak goals are great, if you’re wired for them. Want to run every day? More power to you. But if you find yourself grinding your teeth as you lace up your shoes, something’s wrong.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Change is hard.
There’s a reason they’re called growing pains.
So don’t bail on a goal if it’s hard at the outset. Bank on this: growth is incremental. That goes for 5K training, ultramarathon training, learning guitar, or becoming a better listener. It’s baby steps, and a commitment to get just a little better each day.
That incremental growth is part of a concept that’s served me incredibly well in recovery (in addition to struggling with depression and anxiety, I’ve got more than 2 1/2 years of sobriety). I’m mildly (to put it mildly) obsessed with the concept of destruction and creation. That sounds a bit metal, but what I mean is breaking something down and building it back better and stronger.
When we build muscle, we shred it and it builds back bigger and stronger. One of my favorite analogies is a controlled burn. Invasive species in prairies need to be burned to clear the way for healthy vegetation that leads to more species and a happier planet Earth. The fire actually stimulates the seeds of those good plants, allowing them to grow. Dope, right?
So make that resolution.
Set that goal. Aim high. Just be sure to pace yourself, and don’t forget to smile as you go.