Just like that, I changed my mind. The impact was huge.
For a few years, Ava and I had planned to sell our house and downsize. The goal was to have our house ready to sell by the end of 2020. The amount of work and money necessary to reach this goal was massive.
The house needed a new roof and chimney. It also had a hole in a brick wall where an air conditioner had once been. The hole was covered with a tarp. There was water damaged drywall and carpet in the basement. That needed to be replaced and the basement waterproofed. Closet doors needed to be installed. Dead trees needed to be taken down. And, simply the wear and tear of 23 years from a family of eight throughout the house needed to be repaired and refreshed.
In early January we talked with a real estate agent who told us what we could get if we sold the house “As Is” without repairs and what we could expect after the repairs. We decided on doing the work and, essentially, flipping our own house.
In late February, Ava and I visited the community where we wanted to move after we sold our house. We were told the best time to buy is autumn. Armed with that information, uncertainty about the election in November, and whether interest rates would remain low I made a decision.
Instead of having the house ready at the end of the year, I would have it ready by the end of August. Just like that, I changed my mind, set a new goal and chopped four months off my timeline. That decision would make the next six months even more difficult.
But, that wasn’t the only decision I made in 2020 that added to my workload.
In June, I decided to add a podcast to this blog. You can read the back story HERE. That decision required I learn some new technology and find the time to record and produce a weekly podcast. This was in the midst of all the work I was doing on the house.
I made the decision because I wanted to reach more people who wouldn’t read a blog, but would listen to a podcast. When the right format for the podcast came to me in June, I decided to get to work and roll it out in early September.
People get houses ready to sell every day, and many are in worse shape than mine. Lots of people are also doing podcasts that sound way better than mine and took less time to go from idea to published than I did. This isn’t about me. Instead, there’s something instructive about these two examples that can help you set and reach YOUR goals.
No, the point of these two examples is when and how those two decisions were made and the application to how lots of us set goals.
2020 has been a hard year. I suspect a lot of us are looking forward to a new year more than usual. And, I also suspect a lot of us are eager to set some transformative New Years goals. And, my last suspicion is that most of us will wait until January 1 to get started. That’s the way it’s usually done, right? Here are three reasons why I believe we do this.
IT FEELS LIKE A FRESH START
There’s something powerful about the calendar changing. The New Year represents a fresh start. It’s when we can examine all those things we don’t like about ourselves and our situation that we want to change.
One of my favorite days of the year happens between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. I drive to Washington DC and fight a seat at Ebenezer’s Coffee and plan what I want to accomplish before the end of the next year. I’m setting what most of us call my New Year’s Resolutions.
I drive away from DC full of hope and excitement for what’s going to change and the impact it’ll have.
WE WANT TO GET PAST THE HOLIDAYS
For many people that stretch of days leading up to Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day is full of activity, stress, and lots of food. Once that’s all out of the way, then we can fully focus on making changes to our lives.
Who wants to start a diet or exercise in the middle of the holidays? Who has the energy to think about quitting a bad habit with all the holiday stress swirling about? Who has time to begin that fun creative endeavor when you’re trying to figure out the gift list and buying all that stuff?
And, so we wait until after the holidays to set our New Year’s goals, or at least, to start pursuing them.
WE WAIT FOR THE CALENDAR TO “CALM DOWN”
Those early months of every new year provide something the rest of the year doesn’t…a long runway. For a lot of us, life slows down after the holidays are over. Outdoor activities are limited because of the weather and we’re all “activitied out” from the holidays so there’s just less on the calendar.
That leaves a longer runway to start something new. We have more freedom to focus on our goals and new habits. It’s the best time of year to make changes to our life. And, so we do. I certainly felt that in early January as I was beginning to work on getting the house ready to sell.
HOW ABOUT A NEW PERSPECTIVE?
For these three reasons, January 1 feels like the perfect time to set new goals and many of us do just that. Sadly, though only 8 percent of us will actually accomplish the goals we set. Sadder still, is most will be discarded within two weeks.
I think it’s time for a different perspective on when to set and start New Year’s resolutions. I’d like to use my two decisions from earlier this year to look at these three reasons we wait until January 1 from a different perspective. I feel strongly that if you also change your perspective it’ll help you be part of that 8 percent that reach fitness goal success.
IT FEELS LIKE A FRESH START
I’m going to suggest most New Year’s Resolutions are fueled by emotion. The idea having a fresh start leading to transformation is powerful! That’s why January 1 feels like the perfect time. The problem is those initial emotions aren’t sustainable.
Those two goals I set earlier this year were not fueled by emotion. Instead, they were both motivated by a clear understanding of how they could make a positive impact. Moving the timeline closer of getting our house ready to sell would put us in a better position to buy the next house. Starting the podcast would make this blog accessible to more people.
If there was any emotion in those decisions, it was negative. I also understood the cost of each and had to think through whether I had the time and energy to reach the goal. I didn’t want the extra workload, but I also believed doing both would be possible.
Neither goal was set on a day that felt like a fresh start, but both goals were transformative. If you set your 2021 goals NOW, they likely will not be fueled by the emotion of a “fresh start”, but instead by a clearer understanding of how those goals will impact your life. That’s a much deeper “why” and you don’t have to power through after those “fresh start” emotions fade.
In other words…goals don’t need to wait until January 1.
WE WANT TO GET PAST THE HOLIDAYS
The real objective for a new fitness goal is to first establish the habit. It takes a while before you start to see and feel the results of exercise. This is why a lot of fitness goals fail within the first couple weeks. The emotions have faded and there are no tangible results yet.
The best way to begin a new exercise goal is by starting small to establish the habit. When those fitness goals are powered by emotion we want to dive in the deep end on January 1. We are so excited we’re ready for two-hours of exercise every day. And, we can do that because we are past all those holiday activities. We have so much time!
How about starting a new fitness goal NOW and use the upcoming holidays as way to force yourself to start small?
I made the decision to start the Walking is Fitness podcast during a season of extreme busyness. In some ways, getting the house ready to sell was busier than any holiday season I’ve been through. That forced me to start small with the podcast. I needed to create something that was sustainable even when life got challenging.
Just like fitness, my first objective was establish the habit and routine of producing the podcast and not be focused on the “results.” Because of when I started, I know that I can sustain this project even when life is really busy.
Use the upcoming holidays to your advantage and start small. If you can sustain a new fitness journey through a busy season your odds of succeeding long-term will go up exponentially.
WE WAIT FOR THE CALENDAR TO “CALM DOWN”
If starting small is important for fitness, so is thinking long. Exercise is not a microwave. It’s a crockpot. Fitness goals takes time. Create a habit that will eventually produce momentum. That’s when the good stuff starts to happen.
I started the podcast during one of my busiest seasons ever. The busy will calm down…in fact, it already is starting to, but I already have some podcast momentum. That’ll allow me to try different things and see how I can grow this thing even more.
If you start a fitness journey now, you’ll have some momentum when your calendar calms down after the holidays. You’ll also have the confidence that this fitness goal will stick. That’s huge if you have a history of fitness failures. I know what that feels like and how those thoughts can start to creep in when the initial emotional fuel starts to run dry.
MAKE YOUR 2021 FITNESS GOAL TODAY
If you want to make a fresh fitness start in 2021, don’t wait until January 1. If you start today I believe you’ll give yourself a better opportunity for success and be part of the 8 percent who reach their goals.
Walking is great exercise. It’s effective, sustainable, flexible, and fun. Why not turn your walking into fitness. Download this free guide for The 30 Day New Year Fitness Challenge. It works just as well in November as it does in January. This 30 Day Challenge will help you set a small goal to start that’s right for YOU.
This guide also includes a contract to make with yourself. Sometimes the hardest promises to keep are the ones we make to ourselves. This contract will be tangible reminder of that promise and commitment.
There’s also a WIN tracker that will help you see each day’s fitness goal met as a WIN. This provides momentum as those WINS stack up.
If you don’t have a Fitbit I recommend
If you don’t have a Fitbit I recommend the brand new Fitbit Inspire 2! The Inspire 2 has double the battery life, and also tracks your heart rate and sleep so you get an even wider picture of your fitness progress.
(By the way…if you use the link above to buy a Fitbit Inspire 2 this blog will receive a small commission. It won’t add anything to what you pay, but letting you know is the right thing to do)
Lastly, this blog is designed to help you embrace walking as a fitness activity. It’s sustainable, flexible, effective, and fun. Every week I post new articles with stories and helpful suggestions.
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