January was a tough month. But we made it. Between illnesses and the stresses of ending one decade and beginning a new one, the 245,896 days of January seemed as though they would never end. Yet here we are, eating 1 serving (=7) of mini dark chocolate wafers (because #goals) on February 4th declaring we are survivors.

I hope that you started off 2020 by crushing your goals (and that you continue to do so!), but for those of us that came out of January looking a little haggard, well, we are a bit behind. So while we rally with you and cheer on your weight loss/ new job/ promotion/ new relationship/ whatever it is that you are rising with this year, the rest of us are just filing in to the starting line. Some of us may have even started the race, were blindsided with a twisted ankle, and had to shuffle back to the beginning. Whether this is your delayed or duplicate start, we are here for it.

I’m thinking this is going to be a marathon kind of a year. Not the SeaWheeze, Lululemon Race where you get amazing swag at the end, or the lush Napa Valley marathon where you enjoy amazing variations of wine along the way, but more like BioFreeze San Francisco Marathon with an elevation gain of 990 feet. Those are some steep hills, ya’ll. How the heck are we going to tackle this?

One step at a time.

Goals are not crushed as a whole at one time. The city wasn’t built in a day, right? Brick by brick, we lay the foundation, put up the support beams, and build it out from there. Let’s look at some practical steps we can take this year to ensure we all end up at the finish line together.

1. First things first. You want to start running? You’ve got to get some shoes. You want to learn a new language? Enroll in a course. Maybe you want to improve your marriage, schedule a counseling session, or grab a book on how to better communicate with your spouse. Do the first things first.

2. Stay consistent. Simple, right? It’s not always as easy as it seems. Remember how January was 543,986 days long and 90% of us fizzled out before the month ended?  Let’s not make that same mistake again. Set a time and a date and keep it. Want to work out, but you’re not a morning person? Grab a quick sweat session at lunch or after the kids are in bed. Want to read through the bible in a year? Set a daily reminder on your phone or an alarm on your calendar that will remind you to pause and read each day. Habits are formed over the long term, be consistent, keep the commitment.

3. Prepare for setbacks. There are going to be hills, big ones and small. They may look like an illness, a sick child, a job loss, a rough patch with your spouse, or a financial hiccup. Without proper training a hill can knock you out of breath, cause you to cramp, or it might be the last straw and cause you to mentally hit the wall. Train for the hills. They ARE coming. If you preemptively have a game plan for the setbacks, there is a higher chance they won’t set you back much (or at all).

4. Don’t rely on motivation. Motivation is an emotion, and just as volatile. We won’t always be motivated to do what we set out to do; too tired, too sick, too upset, too far gone…the list goes on and on. What we can learn to rely on instead, is discipline.  “Self-discipline is that mental state of commitment, which gets you performing an activity regardless of your feelings.” Discipline is the difference between regret and success.

5. Gather the troops. New habits are formed easier when we surround ourselves with other likeminded people. Your BFF may not be working for the same promotion, but she can sure cheer you on each step of the way. Your children may not be training for the same race as you, but seeing you complete your training daily will teach them that health and wellness is a priority in your home. Will there be naysayers? Always. But just like the dial on the radio, with a slight adjustment the noise becomes a beautiful sound.

Motivation does not always come before action. For most of us it is necessary to take the first step and realize the victory of a single day. Then allow the days to compound by focusing on just doing the one thing the one day.  After a few days you will accumulate a week. Then start over; focusing only on the one day. Golfers will tell you to just focus on the hole. Don’t let the success or failure of the last hole determine how you will play the next one. And don’t play the next hole until you have finished the current one. The best round of golf is played one hole at a time.  The realization of new habits or the achievement of new goals happens one day at a time one step at a time.

So, let’s get going friends, we vhave eleven more months ahead of us. And while we may have an elevation gain of 990 feet to climb, there is a corresponding loss of 990 feet within the same race, for a net change of zero. We are going to go up, and we will come down, but the exciting thing about it all, is the challenge does not outweigh the reward. The steep ascent of those hills makes the recovery of the decline that much sweeter.


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