Happy new Year one and all!

A fresh, brand, spanking New Year is upon us. I am excited. There is that sense of new beginnings, new life and an air of enthusiasm in the air.

Since I last wrote here on the blog back on New Year’s Eve, I have had large numbers of emails from people asking how to keep New Years resolutions, hatching plans, aiming for goals and so on… It is marvellous to behold.

Today, I cycled in to work. Whilst enduring my fingers getting severe frostbite (I forgot my gloves!) and building up a sweat, I noticed the increased numbers of cyclists doing the same. Now fully engaged in my marathon (and then UK Ironman) training schedules for the year ahead, I have noticed lots more runners than usual out and about in their shiny new running gear too.

That’s the New Year effect for you.

The streets and roads, pathways and sea front is jam-packed full of people who are resolving to exercise more often. Maybe resolving to reduce the size of their waistlines, or just feel healthier.

It saddens me to sound cynical at this stage, I assure you I am not meaning to be… This happens each year, I won’t have to wait long for the roads and running routes to clear of these enthusiastic people. After the first month or so, most of those with fabulous resolutions will get distracted, be less enthusiastic, tired, fed-up of not getting the immediate results they expected… and sadly, they’ll  stop with the running, cycling and regular gym visits. Gym regulars will be pleased to be able to avoid queuing for machines again though, eh? Maybe there are going to be some who last longer than the month of January, and maybe even a few who make this part of their life for good… But there won’t be many with that real winning mentality about their resolutions in a few months time.

Why does this occur with resolutions? What are the reasons that so many start with such enthusiasm and yet so many seem to fail?

Although I think it wise to have long term goals, they are not compelling. I recommend people think short term for setting outcomes that can be achieved, celebrated, enjoyed and then moved on from. To be used as a platform for those bigger, longer term goals and resolutions.

Many people that wrote to me in the past days only started thinking about their resolutions that day, and got a list of them drawn up within ten minutes!

Rather than making some proper time to consider fully and thoroughly what they plan to do and what is actually involved, I got emails from people telling me they are going to run London marathon this year and that I have inspired them to do it.

Despite not having run past their front gate in one go before!

They made the resolution on a whim. In a split second. Running a marathon is some commitment. if you don’t keep on with a schedule, you may even start to feel guilty, unsure or get anxiety about it.  Many hasty resolutions wither and fade as the early days on January get ticked off the calendar.  They need thought and consideration and to be made realistic and achievable (those that know about SMART goals know what I am talking about here. You can read more about these at a previous post at this blog from last year, just scroll down through this article about problem solving).

Achievable is important. Achievable means being realistic and not duping yourself in the heady scents of green pastures and hyper enthusiasm that comes with the New Year.

Simply allow yourself to be realistic. Remember, that although the New Year is here, you did not transform overnight into some vastly different person who only cowers at the sight of Kryptonite!

Think about, understand and explore what is realistic for you and plan according to that. Take realistic steps towards those larger goals. To my budding marathon runner, I suiggested a great half marathon toward the end of the year that we are going to run together.

Note that – running it together means he has to be accountable to me! Plus, he now gets time to work up gradually, get a full schedule in place that he has sourced from a favourite running website of mine, and then go for the marathon the year after. His own life circumstances means he does not have time for the marathon training that we discussed.

Of the other emails I got, several were not making me ‘feel’ their conviction. Some did. Those guys were going to create their own glory this year, I could sense it. They meant it, they had real conviction and energy invested in their resolutions. Most didn’t though.

For some, I felt that they had felt obliged to have some resolutions. It is what we do at New Year, right? For some, perhaps there was no resolution that needed making this year. And I can’t help questioning why people didn’t embark on this outcome at any other time, why is it just New Year they chose to do this?

There’s nothing wrong with not having a resolution. Make a resolution when you want to, not when you’re ‘supposed’ to. Give it the value it deserves.

To all those people with the new running gear I’ll be running alongside in the coming days, good for you. It takes courage to get out there and do this stuff. To all those cyclists out on the roads this morning, well played, I take my hat off to you… And I’m going to say this at the very least…

I do not mean to sound cynical, all you out there doing something for yourself, you chose to do something good for yourself, you are having a go. Even if it does not last, you took some initiative.

Importantly for today, for those of you thinking about getting underway with some last minute resolutions… Think them through, explore, be sure, be thorough and considered… Make them ones that are going to help you enjoy making changes, not ones that feel like chores in order to keep New Years resolutions.

Ok, the blog is up and running for 2011. Lets have a fabulous one…