Getting your second wind…why I don’t like New Year’s Resolutions but do like New Year’s objectives.

runnersConsider this page from John Wesley’s (the founder of the Methodist Church) diary:

 Sunday morning, May 5, preached in St. Ann’s, was asked not to come back anymore.

 Sunday p.m., May 5, preached at St. John’s, deacons said, “Get out and stay out.”

 Sunday a.m., May 12, preached at St. Jude’s, can’t go back there either.

 Sunday p.m., May 12, preached at St. George’s, kicked out again.

 Sunday a.m., May 19, preached at St. somebody else’s, deacons called special meeting and said I couldn’t return.

 Sunday p.m., May 19, preached on the street, kicked off the street.

 Sunday a.m., May 26, preached in meadow, chased out of meadow as a bull was turned loose during the services.

 Sunday a.m., June 2, preached out at the edge of town, kicked off the highway.

 Sunday p.m., June 2, afternoon service, preached in a pasture, 10,000 people came to hear me.

Even the greats have their challenging times. We tend to look at overnight successes and gauge them to be overnight successes when an investigation into their history and background will almost always reveal a considerable time of difficulty, setbacks, small victories, and often outright failure. But they persevere and eventually they acquire some degree of success, perhaps even renown.

Now we sit at the end of a year, look at the calendar for 2013, and are either excited about the new year or survey it with some doubt perhaps even trepidation.

The struggle for success and achievement is draining. It robs us of energy, optimism, and courage. I mean, just review John Wesley’s diary I included above. Even if you’re not a religious person (and I am hopeful you will see this in a much broader sense more indicative of human experience), you can readily understand how Rev. Wesley might, just might, get discouraged.

Repeated attempts to get ahead met with repeated setbacks and failure logically, naturally, and normally take their toll. Very, very few people can experience repeated setbacks and still keep their spirits up. Most of us become discouraged, consider calling it quits, or worse, settle. We decide a push for progress and success is just not worth the disappointment and effort.

This attitude seems to show up more at anniversaries – birthdays are one, New Years is another. The title of this post says I don’t like New Years Resolutions and I don’t. Why? Because they are usually made illogically and enthused with a “it’ll get better next time” type of thinking. It is statistically true that more health club memberships are bought in January than any other month.

But you’re no fool and you’re no novice at life. You’ve been through the calendar many times. So here are 4 secrets for meeting the new year with a second wind:

  1. Don’t even think about making resolutions. They are too vague, to illogical, and have a history of failure.
  2. Instead, try toning it down and setting some realistic objectives phrased in concrete terms. We humans tend to overestimate what we can do in a year but underestimate what we can do in 5 years. Use those years of experience behind you to temper your ambitions and expectations ahead of you. Set realistic targets and gain traction against your objectives incrementally.
  3. Address causes not just effects. Attack those behaviors, actions, and engagements that create or contribute to the things that either trouble you or entice you. If you want things to be different, then back up from the end result and find the steps that get you to it. Then change those steps. Desire to be different is one thing and critically important to actually becoming different. However, desire must be met with concrete action that actually addresses the problem. Before you embark on any endeavor, ask yourself just exactly what you intend to do differently and exactly how what you intend to do will make any difference. Demand of yourself a definitive answer. For example, many people want to climb further out of debt. Consider this, buying just one less “Thirstbuster” per day at 74 cents (the price here in Florida) will add $270 a year to your bottom line.  Victories in life are seldom won by nuclear blasts. They are won inch by inch.
  4. Remember the old Gaelic Blessing:

May those who love us, love us.

And those that don’t love us,

 May God turn their hearts.

 And if He doesn’t turn their hearts,

 May He turn their ankles

 So we’ll know them by their limping.

Listen to people who will encourage, edify, and motivate. Stop watching the news so much (raises the blood pressure), read inspiring stories, listen to encouraging music. Identify and mark (by their limping :-}) those people who will not add propellant to your renewed trajectory. Find those who will impart second wind to you.

 There are two symptoms of second wind and I will show you what they are in my next post on New Years Day. See you then.

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