I pulled into the packed gym parking lot. It was January 2.
New Years Resolutions, I thought to myself.
As I walked into the gym, and prepared myself for my swim, I looked at the newcomers and smiled, hoping to be encouraging. I know that many of these people will not be here in a month or so, and that saddens me.
I know that each of these well-intentioned people will reach a point where the going gets tough – maybe the time commitment becomes overwhelming, maybe it becomes just too easy to hit snooze instead of getting up to workout, maybe life stresses get in the way. And in this moment, they will decide to work around those challenges or quit.
Whatever the reason, I know that most of these people won’t make it to February. But, I want them to, even if that means a crowded swimming pool. I want them to push through that tough moment and instead of quitting, make fitness a part of their life.
2012 was full of tough moments for me. When the clock struck midnight on January 1, 2013, I was absolutely relieved to be done with one of the most challenging and sorrowful years of my life. Caring for my mother as she fought and then lost her battle with pancreatic cancer in June took an enormous toll on my psyche.
Yes, there were days I wanted to quit.
When she was alive, I felt torn by feelings of guilt that I should be with her constantly, and my desire to train in preparation for Ironman Mont Tremblant. After her death in June, and after Ironman Mont Tremblant in August, I was left with emptiness. No mother. No races. No motivation on some days.
Again, there were days I wanted to quit.
I’m telling this story not because I want you to feel sad for me. I’m telling this story because I want to make it clear that EVERYONE–no matter how experienced they are–battles with motivation for fitness and training.
I know some of our friends and family think John and I are naturally endowed with this freak mental mutation that makes us want to train all the time, that allows us to experience every workout as a blessing, and that drives us to live every day better, stronger, faster.
Not. Even. Close. Let’s be honest here: Sometimes it sucks.
Some mornings, I would rather rollover and fall back to sleep. Some mornings, it’s all I can do to drag myself out to the freezing cold garage to sit on the trainer for 3 hours. Some mornings, I wouldn’t mind a day off of training.
But, in those moments when I can decide to continue or quit, what gets me out of bed, pushes me into the garage, and moves me forward are my goals. I will always have competing priorities, and tough training days are par for the course. My goals encourage me to work around those challenges, to recognize that quitting will only make me feel worse, not better. I’m not a quitter, and I think the reason for that is I have always lived a goal-driven life.
I know that many of the New Years Resolutioners that I saw at the gym this week are torn by competing priorities as well. I know, especially in the first few weeks, many New Years Resolutioners will want to give up, to give in to those voices that tell them, “This is too hard. This is not for me. I don’t have time for this. I don’t want to do this anymore.”
My advice to them: Don’t give in to those voices. We ALL hear those voices–whether we have trained our entire lives or just started. The trick is to have a response for those no good naysayers in our heads.
For me, the most effective way to fight these voices is to remember my goals. As we are in the resolution season, now is the perfect time to be clear and specific about your goals.
Don’t set vague resolutions, such as “I want to get in shape.” That simply won’t work. The naysayers are much more specific. You’ll have to outsmart them.
So, go after a goal that is more tangible, more measurable, such as “I want to run my first 5k or half marathon or marathon” or “I want to finish my first triathlon, or Ironman,” or “I want to beat my previous best time in a marathon or triathlon.” Or, [insert your SPECIFIC, MEASUABLE, TANGIBLE goal here].
Once you figure out your goals, write them down and make them visible. When the negative voices come a-calling, it does you no good if you can’t focus in on what you really want. A daily, visible reminder of those goals makes the focus much easier to maintain.
Once you know what your goals are, understand why you want to do achieve this goal. As our friend Mary Eggers has written, an important step to getting started and sticking with it is to “Determine your why.”
Will achieving your goal be empowering and a sign of independence? Is it something you always dreamed of doing? Do you want to test what you are made of? Do you want to set a good example for your kids? When the tough moment presents itself, remind the voices why you are doing what you are doing.
I’ve got aggressive goals for 2013, some of which the negative nellies in my head will try to fight. I have no doubt that competing priorities and tough training days will cause me to question my purpose, my focus. But, I won’t quit. I know what I’m doing, and I know why I’m there. How about you?
What are your 2013 goals? How do you fight the voices in your head?