I’m not a big reflector (I’m a bit more Nike ‘just do it’ tbh…), so as the year comes to a close it’s quite uncharacteristic of me to cast my eye back. I much prefer to look forward – both figuratively and literally.
Whilst ‘the curse of 2016’ has been mentioned a lot in the wake of so many high profile deaths, the year also gave rise to triumphs, such as the unprecedented success of the British team in Rio. Closer to home, our personal view of the year will be influenced by our smaller, private highs and lows. Ones that never reach the papers. A mental tally of the two will enable us to judge whether it was an annus horribilis or not. Either way, the year has gone. It is in the past – now time to look forward.
My 2016 has ended with little things. Each a nudge to say ‘bring on the new’. We missed the bin collection, my youngest wet the bed and there’s a strange pong in one of our rooms. There’s other stuff of course but it’s these little things that feel like they’re the tipping point to turn a new page, get the new calendar out and look ahead. A time for resolutions, aspirations, warmer weather – and a cleaner house!
I know not everyone is into resolutions. They get such bad press, with so many of us failing to stick to them. They may as well be redefined as ‘promises we break’. For example, I remember from my gym-going days, the influx of the new year’s joiners meaning that there weren’t any running machines free. I used to reassure myself that things would settle down by the end of January when the numbers would go back to normal. Sure enough, they always did. It’s the same with dry January, diets and any other commitments that are an extreme shift from our current way of life. They’re nearly impossible to keep up.
Aside from addictions, life changes like diets, exercise and the desire to change our outlook are more successful when we make small, sustainable changes. Small changes may not give us the same instant gratification as rapid weight-loss, or adrenaline from pushing ourselves to the limit, but they will make the difference over the long-term. What’s more, we’ll barely feel the pain of getting there as small changes can be easily integrated into our current lifestyles. After all, life’s a marathon not a sprint.
But then what? So you’ve done the ‘couch to 5k’ – do you then stop running? You’ve lost a stone in weight, do you deserve ‘cheat days’? Of course we need goals, but for long-term success, we need to make them small and achievable and critically, we need to review them. We need to keep raising the bar. This will enable us to retain what we’ve worked hard for and keep ourselves challenged by seeking out new goals.
With age, my new year’s aspirations have simplified down to ‘health and happiness’. I’ll no doubt have specific goals throughout 2017 – and of course I’d like to be fitter and eat less choc, but they aren’t the end-goals in themselves. As Steven Covey said, I want to ‘begin with the end in mind’, so as 2017 ends, I’d like to be healthy and happy as I toast to 2018. The rest is up for grabs!