If there’s something as customary as making a wish upon a birthday candle, it’s breaking a new year’s resolution. Hardly a quarter of the year elapses before majority of us are well on our way to breaking the promises we earnestly made. Why then, is there still considerable hoopla around this yearly ritual?
The answer is rather simple: there’s something inherently charming about new beginnings; it’s the prospect of living the life we envision through our rose tinted glasses. It brings with it the ability to recreate and the opportunity to redefine. It’s the cliched “you but better” and sadly enough, it’s that very you who’s the weakest link in following through with the resolution. Although we start out with the best intention to remain steadfast, what causes this profound shift that almost guarantees our inability to maintain our respective resolutions? It’s not so much about accountability to oneself where the inability stems from, as it is about an inherent human characteristic: the desire for instant gratification.
Perhaps you have heard the phrase “patience is a virtue” atleast once in your lifetime, yet several of us can attest to the all too familiar feeling of restlessness upon waiting for, well…just about anything: be it long lines at the doctor’s office, promotions at work, exam results or something as mundane as your food at the restaurant, a watched pot has never boiled slower. We’re told that every action has an equal and opposite reaction, and the 1:1 principle is only exacerbated by technology. Our shiny iPhones with superior processing capabilities truly puts the world in the palm of our hands. With the ability to exchange information in real time we become habituated to speed. In doing so, we become accustomed to exerting our resources, be it time or energy, in tiny bursts, much like sprints during a run. Yet we often forget that small efforts only culminate to the greater push toward actualizing a goal; the race, my friends, is more a marathon than it is a sprint.
The manner in which we approach resolutions is not dissimilar to the manner in which we set our goals. We begin the process of goal setting with an aggregation of the larger picture. We break down the goal into sizable chunks and tackle the smaller components piecemeal. Yet when we find ourselves tied up in the intricacies of the details, we seldom take a step back to piece the puzzle together. If life is the proverbial marathon, our desire for instantaneous results makes us sprint at the very beginning, causing us to become tired long before we cross the finish line. We become so jaded with self pity over how much ground we have yet to cover in the grand scheme of our efforts that we give up long before we truly begin to try.
This is probably why we give up on our fitness goals after merely a week of eating clean and working out. We wonder how and when crash diets became vogue and where the sudden promotion of appetite suppressants germinated from, often forgetting that it’s only through continual efforts that our hard work catalyzes into the desired end product.
The next time you’re ready to give up, ask yourself: are you sprinting or are you pacing? Tune in to the rhythm of your pace and remind yourself often that instant efforts do not warrant instant results. It’s innately in our nature to attribute greater weight to our efforts than our inability to persevere indefinitely. If wishes were horses, burning off my favorite macaroons at the gym would be as easy as consuming them!