One of the many things I love about exercise and the great outdoors is the ability to shut off your conscious brain, quiet the constant stream of thinking and let things drift in and out of your head. One of the most ideal scenarios for this is a long trail run. And one of my favorite locations is Brown County State Park in Southern Indiana. The well-maintained trails go for miles and miles, winding, over creeks, down valleys, through sprawling hills and long rolling stretches; never so difficult you have to work too hard but enough of a challenge to keep you focused on your next step while still enjoying the views and solitude. Derick and I were out on our last run of 2015 when it hit me that the next day was a new year, the official start for 2016. I’ve never been one for resolutions; however, I’m a big fan of setting goals and always working towards something; ‘self-betterment’ you could call it. The idea popped into my head that perhaps as we enter into a new year, we should consider focusing less on ‘resolutions’ and more on ‘resolve’.
Now you may wonder how the two differ, and in many ways, you’re correct; they are vastly synonymous. Both refer to purpose, intent and determination. But in society it seems resolutions often end up being ‘promises’ to oneself, in addition to being focused on things we “feel we should do” rather than things we genuinely want to do. Exercise more often. Swear less. Eat more healthy…eat more greens. Be less stressed. Live in the moment. Volunteer. While any goal setting is far better than nothing at all, what I don’t like about resolutions is they seem to create stress and a feeling of ‘having to’ do something rather than helping motivate you while actually wanting to. Almost as if you’re committing to things out of guilt, rather than passion.
Instead of lining up resolutions, put a different spin on it. Ask yourself, what is your resolve? What is your motivation to want to change? Why is it important to you? Be honest with yourself. (This statement sounds far simpler than it often is). Consider why certain types of self-improvement have meaning to you, what can get you excited about working towards, and start here. When I ask myself to define my Resolve, it forces me to dig deeper than simply tossing out a resolution just because I feel like I have to or I should. My resolve is more deeply rooted in what is driving me to be a better person. It creates a firm determination to want to adhere to my own purpose, in my life, separate from anything externally influencing it. It is authentic and it’s coming from my soul, not so much my head.
That said, there is nothing wrong with looking towards a New Year and aiming to exercise more, live healthier, or spend more time with family; and these goals may entail adhering to a schedule, eating more consciously, and prioritizing your time more efficiently. But it is your resolve that will allow you to stick to these goals; that being the internally seeded drive enforcing the behavior. And hopefully you’re making changes because you want to, and you believe in them; not because you feel you should. When you start to feel yourself falter, and we all will, just remember the word resolve…and take pride in your ability to stay firmly planted to your roots.