The New Year’s Resolutions Rush

January 11th, 2009 By Kevin Ngo

Looks like the resolutions rush is here. People have made their New Year’s resolutions and have begun taking action to keep their word. Already I’m noticing the gym I go to being more packed than usual. I’m seeing more people sitting with the sales people and taking tours of the gym. The parking lot is more packed as well.

And so the resolutions rush begins. The enthusiasm and energy is high, the motivation is plentiful, and the determination is strong… at least for now. People from all around are starting businesses, signing up for gym memberships, empting out their fridge and restocking it with healthy foods, scheduling time to spend with loved ones or booking a vacation, sending out more resumes, cutting up credit cards and doing a ton of other things in hopes that the resolutions they’ve chosen for this year will once and for all be resolved.

So what have you done so far during this resolutions rush period? Have you laid out a plan and started on it yet? You’re not waiting for the weather to get better or for the economy to turn around are you? If you’re already coming up with excuses not to get started on your resolutions, chances are, you’ll be seeing it again next year. I’m just going to assume that you have started or at least are going to pretty soon.

The reason why I call this period a resolutions rush is because it’s filled with tons of people with temporary burst of excitement and determination rushing out to resolve their resolutions. So what happened during last year’s resolutions rush? Stuff happened, that’s what. When you start on your resolutions, since the motivation, determination, and drive is still high, things are exciting, obstacles are minimal, and life is so far so good. But then reality kicks in and kicks the crap out of most people. Let me explain this with a metaphor.

The Marathon

Starting Line

starting line
Imagine this resolutions rush as a marathon with many obstacles and walls. At the start of the marathon, almost everyone is off to a great start. There are a few who will still be stretching out, preparing and waiting for everything to be just right before they start. Some of these people will eventually get going, but some will end up stretching too long and will end up never starting at all.

First Hurdle
obstacles
A couple of miles into the marathon (couple of weeks into the year), some people are going along with a smile on their face, while others are already starting to complain about how hot it is or how it’s so crowded. Coming into view is a small hurdle. Most are able to just hop right over it without slowing down. A few ended up tripping over the wall but quickly got back up and continued. A couple of people got to the small hurdle, actually stopped and looked at it, complained about how the road isn’t completely smooth, and went home. A couple down, many more to go.

The Fork
decisions
A few more miles (weeks) have gone by and as the people on this resolutions rush turned a corner, up in a distance was a split road. The path leading to the right was the road to their goals while the path to the left was the road to instant gratification.

The right path looked rough with dark clouds starting to form over it and off in a far distance the rushers are able to see a steep hill. The left path had beautiful scenery. The sky above it was completely clear of clouds. There were birds chirping, bunnies frolicking, it was like a scene from a Disney movie. On top of that, not only there weren’t any hills in sight, the road looked like it was on a slight decline.

The ones who were focused and determined took the rough road, the one less taken, while a big chunk of the group took the road to instant gratification. Maybe they decided to stop running and buy a machine they saw on TV that does the exercising for them, or they thought to themselves, “life’s too short, I’m going for the chocolate cake”. These people got off track, some will return to the path later down the line while others will decide to give up after realizing they took the wrong road and it’s too late to get back on track and will wait until next year.

The Plateau

The ones on this resolutions rush who expected the temptations to show up didn’t get swayed by them and took the right road. So on they went. After another 4 miles or so (1 month), the rushers started to notice the road getting a bit steeper, making their progress slower. Most were expecting this and just kept going. Some didn’t realize progress can slow down and since their results were decreasing, they got discouraged and ran back to the road split to take the other path.

As the road got steeper and steeper, more and more people on this resolutions rush got discouraged and quit. Still, there were plenty who remained determined and focused on their goal and toughed it out knowing that this was all part of the process. As the miles (weeks) went by, the sky started to get darker and darker as the first drops of rain began to fall making the road more wet and slippery.

Slippery Slope

challenges
As more rain fell, people started to slip and fall. Not only that, many, because of the steep incline, started to slide back down. This made a majority of the people remaining get extremely frustrated. They expected for progress to slow down, but for it to go in reverse was just intolerable.

At this point the scene was one of chaos. People were falling and sliding back all over the place. Some kept getting up just to fall back down. Many were yelling and cursing out of anger and frustration as they slid while others helplessly cried. After a short while, most of them quit. Their determination had faltered. Their motivation had crashed.

The Finish Line?

As the quitters started to clear out, you could see the remaining people on this resolutions rush still going at it, slowly crawling and clawing their way up the muddy hill. If you looked into their eyes, you could see relentless determination. You can hear them yell at themselves from the top of their lungs, “Keep going, don’t quit! I will not be denied the life I want!”

top of hillWith fire in their souls and a heart of a champion, those few individuals slowly got closer and closer to the top of the hill. Inch by inch they climbed until finally, exhausted and out of breath, they reached the top of the hill. With a sigh of relief, they stood tall and proud but only to see that the road ahead was filled with more hills, ones even higher than the ones they just climbed.

But these few people left are true warriors. They realize that because they climbed this hill, they are now stronger and capable of climbing the next. No hill or mountain can stop them because these last few are the real winners in life for they understand that the bigger the challenges, the stronger they will become, and the stronger they become, the bigger the challenges they can take on. These are the ones who get all the rewards and get to live the life of their dreams. “Lucky” them right?

Even though I used a fitness/diet example, this metaphor can be applied to most other areas as well. With most things, in the beginning, after the getting started phase, progress is pretty good, as it should be. If you’re starting from zero, any progress will look good. After some time though, the progress rate will slow down and start to level out.

In sports, this is known as the plateau, the point when your results seem to stop increasing. Every athlete experiences this. Many people who take up a new sport or learn to play an instrument will get discouraged after experiencing this plateau. After experiencing progress going in reverse, many quit.

If progress was just a straight upward line, everyone would achieve what they set out to achieve, but life isn’t like that. There’s always going to be ups and downs. The difference in people’s lives is how they choose to handle those downs in life. You can either use those times to get stronger and more determined, or use it as an excuse to quit.

So What’s It Going to Be?

Anyone can keep going when it’s easy. What will you do when things are not so easy? How about when things get difficult? And when things seem down right impossible? Then what? Will you do like most of the runners in the story did and quit or will you do what the few did and fight for your dreams no matter how tough it gets? If you want to complete your resolutions bad enough, you’ll know what to do.

This year will come and go regardless of what you decide to do with it. You can either make it another failed resolutions year or you can take a stand during this resolutions rush and claim what’s yours. The choice is now. How you’ll feel at the end of the year about your resolutions is in your hands.

Until next time…

Love Life. Do Good. Live Well.

Related Articles:

New Years Resolutions

How to Achieve Goals

Self-Discipline

Developing Habits

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