It's that time of year when suddenly you have to wait in line to use the machine at the gym and fight to weigh your fruits and veggies in the produce aisle. Yup, the New Year's "I'm going to diet, exercise, budget, learn a language, take cooking classes, read a book a week, learn to tango and so on" resolution craze is in full swing...for about a month. If you've ever made resolutions it may come as no surprise that, according to various studies, 81-92% of New Year's resolutions fail. I've also fallen into this category of setting so many goals and endless lists that I could never check off completely, thus making my perfectionist-self never fully satisfied. I, like many other resolutioners, was setting myself up for failure. There are countless articles, studies and books on self-discipline and how to create habits that stick, but this blog is simply about the 3 things sports has taught me about resolutions, finding balance and happiness.
Discipline is like a muscle: it can flex, but it will reach a point of exhaustion
Spreading my discipline points across ten different tasks also means I never reduce the total number of discipline points needed per task. For example, if I want to make stretching a habit like brushing my teeth, it may cost me a lot of discipline points at first, but with consistent dedication it should cost me less points over time. Moreover, focusing on one or a few goals at a time allows me to dedicate enough energy to wholly succeed, rather than half-succeeding in five areas, leading to disappointment.
We apply this rule in my triathlon training: of course I'd like to improve my swimming AND biking AND running AND strength AND nutrition AND technique AND recovery strategies.....BUT, we know I won't succeed if we don't prioritize our goals and take the time needed to progress in each respective discipline. (Note that this does not mean completely omitting other tasks, simply putting a focus on the ones we want to improve in that period.)
Progress is rarely linear, so be prepared to bounce back from failure
I'd like to conclude with the small disclaimer that I am not expert on this subject by any means, this is just what worked for me and I hope you can find it useful for your resolutions. To find out more on the subject, a good book is "The Power of Habit" by Charles Duhigg. I wish everyone balance, perseverance and joy in pursuit of their projects for 2016 and beyond!