Volume 4

RECLAIMING YOUR RESOLVE

Perhaps you started 2010 full of motivation to make positive changes in your life. Maybe you articulated a list of New Year’s resolutions, and conjured up many good intentions. But now it’s spring, and it’s quite possible you haven’t even started yet.

If that’s true, you’re definitely not alone. While online research varies, statistics indicate as many as 90 per cent of all people who make New Year’s resolutions don’t see them through. So if you find yourself among that massive percentile, don’t despair. It’s never too late to make a positive change.

Even if you’ve chosen a ‘biggie’ like losing weight, getting in shape, or quitting smoking, it can happen if you’re determined enough. During the past ten years, I’ve embraced all three of those ‘biggies’ and know first hand that change doesn’t come easy. But it eventually does come.

It’s taken almost a decade for me to quit a pack-a-day smoking addiction, lose thirty pounds, and get fit – in fact, now at the age of 40, I’m the most fit I’ve ever been in my life. And I’m nowhere near finished yet. I want to lose twenty more pounds, become a competitive rower, score a real goal for my hockey team (the first one was a fluke!), try a triathlon, and maybe even run a full marathon. I’d like to ride my bike across Europe, hike the entire TransCanada Trail, and paddle somewhere in South America.

The point I’m trying to make is that life is an ongoing journey, and one that constantly changes and evolves. Our individual quests for change never stop. No matter who you are, or what you’ve already achieved, there is always something more to strive for. You will always find new ways to challenge yourself. So instead of feeling like giving up on yourself because it’s already March and you haven’t done anything yet, embrace your first challenge. Commit to starting now.

The first step is to stop relying on the calendar to tell you when it’s time to make a change. There’s no rule that says you have to start January 1. So why put pressure on yourself to live a new life just because it’s a new year?

You can reclaim your resolve any day of the year – including today. In fact, today may be the best day of all, since yesterday is gone, and tomorrow may never come. All we really have is today anyway. So if you want to start making changes in your life, here are some of the lessons I learned along the way. They helped me, and I hope they will help you, too.

Know what it is you want to do: It’s easy to say “I want to get in shape” or “I want to lose weight.” But what does that mean? You need to know what you want to accomplish, so you can figure out how to accomplish it. Define it in your own terms. “I want to lose 50 pounds.” “I want my favourite pants to fit better.” “I want to run one mile without stopping.” Before you can do it, you need to know what it is first.

Know what you need to know: If you want to be successful, knowing what you need to know is absolutely essential. If you want to lose weight, arm yourself with knowledge about foods, calories and nutrition. Join a weight loss group. Plan your meals. If you want to become a runner, join a running group. Find a training plan. Read fitness magazine. Hire a trainer. Use the internet for research. The more knowledge you seek, the more knowledgeable you will become.

Embrace the journey: On a road-trip, you don’t travel from Winnipeg to Calgary in one shot. Rather, it’s a journey that takes you past Brandon, into Saskatchewan, and through Regina. You’ll stop for gas and food, and witness changing scenery. Eventually, you’ll arrive. Achieving a personal goal is like a journey. To shed 50 pounds means losing one pound at a time. Running one mile means first running for one minute. Journeys take time, and transformation happens slowly. Instead of trying to do it all at once, embrace and enjoy every stop along the way. Know you’ll eventually arrive.

Find support: Change can be difficult, so why do it alone? Find a friend on the same path, and journey together. Enlist a family member to confide in. Join a meeting group or online community facing the same challenge. When I quit smoking seven years ago, I relied on an online community of smokers all attempting to quit. We posted journal entries, sent messages, and encouraged each other. Because of them, I was finally able to quit, and am forever grateful for that group of virtual strangers. They helped me change my life.

If you resolved to make changes this year – whether big or small – it’s not too late. Set your mind to it and just start. Learn what you need to know, and be prepared to take it slow. Accept that you’ll make mistakes and slip up along the way. But whatever happens, its okay.

Remember that it’s a journey to be taken one step at a time, one day at a time. No matter how many times you veer off the path, if you find the resolve to find your way back, you’ll reach your goal.

Eventually you’ll arrive.