Are Marathoners Better at Keeping New Years Resolutions?
New Years Resolutions (or any big goals, for that matter) sound good for the first few days of the year. But, now that we are a couple of weeks into 2015, the burden associated with keeping our resolutions start to get real. By now, we are back at work, the kids are back in school, and the demands of “real life” are back with a vengeance and our resolutions become more and more difficult to maintain.
Therefore, it’s no surprise that many people are struggling to keep their New Years Resolutions by the second week of January. However, I’m still going strong on my resolutions for 2015, and I have no plans to start slacking in the foreseeable future.
Now, I don’t say this to brag. I’m struggling with a couple of my resolutions, but I have strategies in place to help me pick up the slack without sacrificing the momentum I’ve created on the goals that are going strong right now. I know for a fact that I’m not anyone special, I waste a lot of time every day that I could be much more productive with, and I don’t work 20 hours a day or 7 days a week. I wonder sometimes how I’m able to stay on track when (statistically at least) 3 out of 4 people that set resolutions fail to achieve them and 1 out of 3 give up before the end of January.
Is There a Secret to Keeping Your New Years Resolutions?
I think there is.
I think the secret to being successful at keeping your New Years Resolutions, or achieving your goals if you’re in the anti-resolution corner, is pretty straight forward: keep working hard every day and don’t give up.
Not much of a secret, eh? It’s pretty much the “secret” of success in just about any area of your life.
Want to build a successful business? Work hard and don’t give up.
Want to save for retirement? Work hard, keep saving, and don’t give up.
Want to learn to be the best baseball player in the world? Work hard and don’t give up. Hitting the genetic lottery helps too.
Want to run a marathon? Work hard and don’t give up.
Is anyone else sensing a trend.
New Years Resolutions Require Hard Work
“There is no substitute for hard work.” ~Thomas A. Edison
I need to ask a tough question real quick. Could it be possible that New Years Resolutions fail because people aren’t willing to do the hard work required to be successful?Do New Years Resolutions fail because people aren't willing to do the work required to be successful? Click To Tweet
Speaking for only myself, I know that there have been some years that I’ve been very successful in terms of reaching the goals that I had set for myself for that year. But the successes weren’t easy. They required hard work, regular course corrections, consistent monitoring of progress, and a willingness to keep pushing every day in order to be successful. The payoff was well worth it, especially when I was able to look back on the year and feel the sense of pride over all that I had accomplished.
However, in the years that I wasn’t successful with my resolutions, the common thread seems to be that I didn’t do the work required. I didn’t set goals for the year that were so audacious that I was doomed from the beginning. Instead I set big goals that were achievable, but only if I was willing to put in the proper amount work required to accomplish them. And for whatever reason, some years and/or some resolutions just didn’t get the attention and hard work required to be successful.
If my example is indicative of the population as a whole, why aren’t more people willing to put in the hard work to improve their life/health/business/whatever they resolved to do in the first place?
Are they lazy? Are they unwilling to work hard?
I don’t think that’s it.
Delaying Gratification is REALLY Hard
Photo Credit: AMagill via Compfight cc
It’s no secret that we live in a world obsessed with speed and instant gratification. We get upset if a web page takes more than a couple of seconds to load. YouTube videos longer than a couple of minutes are “way too long” to watch. And for some people, overnight shipping from Amazon isn’t even fast enough!
We want our payoff, and we want it now! Actually, we want it faster than now if possible, and the payoff for a successful New Years Resolution is more than 300 days away. Honestly, I think that many people have a hard time justifying the amount of blood, sweat, and tears required to achieve their resolutions on a daily basis for the next 11+ months.
So instead of doing the work, they cut bait and get out of the game.
But not the runners, and especially not the marathoners.
Do Marathon Runners Know the Secret for Resolution Success?
Just about every year, I jump on twitter toward the end of the year and start asking runners how they did with their mileage goals for the year. It’s amazing to me how many miles some people run over a 365 day period. And it’s encouraging to me to see how many runners hit their yearly goals.
But why are they so successful?
If you’ve ever run a marathon (or God forbid, an ultra) you know the amount of dedication, time, and effort you have to put in to properly prepare for the race. Often, you have to get up early and motivate yourself to get out there and pound the pavement for 2-4 hours at a time.
And why do we do this?
Because at the end of the 16 week training program there is a 26.2 mile race that makes the (literally) hundreds of miles that we’ve logged to that point worth it.
You see, we as runners start putting in work preparing for our races ahead of time, knowing that our payoff won’t come for 16 weeks! But it is this willingness to delay our gratification that allows us to successfully complete marathons and, I believe at least, continue to stick with our New Years Resolutions in March, August, and September.
Stick With Your New Years Resolutions in 2015
This year, don’t give in.
If you had a resolution in mind on January 1st that is capable of improving your life this year, keep working at it. Keep “grinding out the miles” and “don’t cut your run short”. Because when you look back on December 31st, all of the hard work and sacrifice will be well worth the wait for the payoff that is in store.
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