I am now a week into the New Year and fair play, the resolution is holding steady. I’ve been open sea swimming several times, climbed a mountain at a cracking pace, walked and trotted around the first #parkrun of the year, resumed my swimming lessons at DCU and returned to CrossFit. I’m not crazy, just well organised and absolutely determined. There was a lot of talk this year about the pressure New Year resolutions pile onto folk, particularly when it comes to losing weight. I don’t see it that way. I see a new year as a new start, a blank slate, and an opportunity to draw a line under the person I was and plan the person I want to be.Not that I’m too disappointed with the person I was last year. If you set goals, it’s really important to review them and congratulate yourself on progress made. I have to work at doing that, because growing up, I really bought into the message that to praise yourself was vain and bad. I don’t believe that message now, but I still find myself apologising for a compliment instead of accepting it and feeling happy for the kind thought.Looking back at 2014 feels a little like looking at a page from someone else’s life, because – caught in the moment – I hadn’t really kept track of how much I had done. My resolutions were to start my own business as a writer/blogger/trainer, to qualify to take part in Dublin’s iconic Liffey Swim, and to climb to the highest peak in Europe, Mount Elbrus, in Russia.
Despite injury, setbacks and lots of unexpected detours along the way – I achieved all three.
As I approached the end of 2014 I was actually feeling rather brutal and had fallen back into the old habits of beating myself up. I was kicking myself because I had taken my eye off the ball on returning from Russia and the weight had started piling on again. I also found that working alone at home could have it’s lonely moments, and I was missing some of my old friends and colleagues as the Christmas Parties began in earnest.
Then a journalist rang me and asked if I had followed through on the resolutions I had made for 2014. For a heart-stopping moment I wondered with horror what I’d originally posted, and then sat up enthusiastically as I counted out all three, with box-ticking enthusiasm and a small dart of amazement. I had done exactly what I had set out to do, what I had dreamed off, hoped for, dared to do, and actually achieved.
I think those three little words could be a key to what makes resolutions a tool to open your world, rather than a stick to beat you with. If you don’t dream how can you possibly know what you’re capable of? If you do the same thing you have always done, how can you possibly expect to do something new?
The dream is opening the door to look outside – the dare is having the courage to step through and take on a new challenge with no guarantee of success – the do is how you make it happen.
I was talking about this on TV3’s Midday recently and I remarked on air that pinning a note saying ‘I’m going to be a pop star’ on the fridge door, may be a good start, but you need to put the steps in place to follow through. Perhaps you could book some singing lessons, volunteer to perform at a home for the elderly, follow Louis Walsh on Twitter! I’m not saying that’s a guarantee to get on X-Factor and perhaps that’s why I don’t have an album out …. just yet! But you can see where I’m coming from. Resolutions are only unrealistic if you don’t put the plan in place to make them happen. Then, even if you don’t become a pop-star, you’ll have learned to sing and pleased a lot of old folk – and where’s the failure in that?
I might leave X-Factor for 2016 though, because my resolution is already mapped and planned. That weight gain that saddened me last November has inspired me this January. Operation #FatBurn2015 is underway. My new wall-planner is up; and I’m well on my way to swimming, running, and hiking my way into a smaller pair of shorts this summer.
PS. Note to my big brother Raymond – after the ribbing you gave me in Paris 2 years ago, those new shorts I’m buying will almost certainly be purple – or I’ll eat ’em.