Why you shouldn’t hit it hard in January (or the start of any goal)

It’s really easy to go hard and fast on your goals in January, utilizing the momentum of the new year to springboard us all into action. Start that new gym membership and work out every day! Start that diet on January 1 that drastically differed from whatever was consumed on December 31st! Start a rigid brand new routine after staying up super late all throughout the holiday break! Somehow when that clock strikes midnight and the year turns, all of a sudden life is completely different……right? NO. Sure, let’s use the momentum of the new year, but there’s a possible big issue here if you employ this productivity strategy.

When you take to your goals like a maniac on January 1st, sure, you’re on fire at first. Sure, you’re getting things done and feeling great. But as we all know, the weeks go by and the momentum starts to fade a little bit, and we start to slow down and settle into reality. By late January, people are starting to give up, and by March, people are already looking to plan for the following year, because they were derailed by some unexpected event, or burned out trying too hard to accomplish their goal early. So here’s my advice on how to really handle the new year: TAKE IT SLOWER, and PACE YOURSELF. Maybe even ramp up instead!

As I’ve mentioned many times over the past months, my clients and I started thinking about 2018 a few months prior to the end of the year. This was beneficial because it gave us extra time to think about what we wanted to create and accomplish, and allowed us to a) clear the clutter from the current year to ensure we could hold to our new plans, but also b) potentially get a head start on our goals for the following year and start off on great footing. And we did all of this in what were possibly the most tiring months of the year. The best thing about this strategy was that we were able to smooth out this notion of “hitting it hard” come January because we were already settled into our new year mindset before the year even began. (If you didn’t have a plan coming into 2018, all hope is not lost, because remember, we can start a “new year” at any time! We just need to factor in some time to get settled.)

One of the goals I had coming into 2018 was to have a more varied fitness regimen. During most of the last 6 years, I worked very deeply in one discipline at a time – for a while, I was a pilates fanatic. While this was a great total body workout, I didn’t feel like I had enough cardio in my system. So then, for a couple years I was running and training to run a marathon (of which I only made it to a half). The pilates classes started to slow, and my endurance was great, but I started losing power and strength. So then, I added flying trapeze and circus and started to phase out the running, which had small spurts of power and a little bit of cardio, but I wasn’t stretching at all, and felt my endurance was declining. I also know that I can get bored with my workouts when it starts to get monotonous. So this year, I wanted to try a new strategy: a broad variety of workouts, that had the full package: cardio, stretching, strength training. After much research, I decided to try something new: kickboxing, which I believed had the cardio and strength training elements, but also do something with stretching, like yoga.

Three weeks into the year, this is how I’m working on this goal. In the first two weeks, I went to kickboxing class 3 times total (in this 3rd week, I’ll go another 2 times). I haven’t yet fit a regular yoga class into my schedule, but will plan to do so in February or March. I am also doing bowling with my family on a weekly-ish basis (Fridays), and I just came back from a weekend of skiing in Park City. Now note, I haven’t gone crazy with the kickboxing, I’m pacing myself. I actually didn’t even push myself to my limits in the first couple classes, because I knew that the soreness/exhaustion could potentially derail me from continuing to go. But by the 3rd class, I felt myself punching the bags harder and with more confidence. I’m hoping by March, I have a routine down, but I’m being gentle with myself, because it’s all about the long game here.

I’m also taking it slower at work. Admittedly, I didn’t clear all the clutter I had hoped before 2017 ended, but I’m focusing on prioritizing what is important (my clients, and the most time sensitive matters) as I slowly get back to normal. It’s REALLY uncomfortable for me, someone who is used to always being insanely busy, to not want to dive into work mode and stay up all night to clear everything and be up to speed, but I’m tired of my usual routine of intense period of working followed by an indefinite time of crash and burn. It doesn’t really serve me. So, what if I just stayed at a steady pace? This year, I’m going to make that transition: do things when I’m ready to, set amazing boundaries, and see what shifts in my life as a result.

Are you the type of person who likes to do the “hit it hard” then “crash and burn” cycle? What if you slowed things down, just a little bit? What opportunities might that bring you? (If this question triggers you, I totally get it. This was me for the first 37 years of my life. But I want to create a different belief system, that we don’t NEED to go at warp speed to be successful. And hopefully by the end of this year, I can prove this belief wrong for all of us!)


The Cheerful Mind