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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year's Resolution: Be the 8%

Obviously, not all statistics are true, but it has been estimated that only 8% of those that make a New Year's Resolution actually is successful in keeping it through the whole year.  No wonder only 45% of the people in the United States actually make New Year's Resolutions.  The likelihood of you succeeding is pretty rare... statistically speaking, but statistics do not have to define whether you succeed or not.  Also, people who publicly and purposefully make their resolutions are 10 times more likely to achieve their resolutions than those who do not.

So how can you make sure you're the 8% and not the majority of people who make resolutions and fail to achieve them?  Honestly, every individual is different, and every goal one has is also different.  However, I believe that the goals each person makes are divided into two types.  The first is what I call an achievement goal.  You're giving yourself a time limit in which you are to accomplish a certain task that is measurable.  In a New Year's Resolution, an example would be to lose 30lbs in a year.  The second is what I call a lifestyle goal.  Instead of a time limit, you're adding or taking away something in your every day routine, and create a new habit.  In a New Year's Resolution, an example would be to stop drinking soda from this day forth.

Understand what you are trying to do and then decide whether you want one type of goal or another type.  I prefer to attempt the lifestyle goals because to me, achievements are great, but they are only steps towards my main goal.

Anyway, after understanding what you are truly going for, then here are the 3 steps to success.

Be Truthful to Yourself

One of the hardest things I've had to do was to accept myself at where I am.  As a long distance runner, I need to know where I am and what physical potential I have.  I hear a lot of other people tell me where they think I am, how fast or strong I am at running, but in all truthfulness, the only person that knows me best is myself.  I know exactly how much I've run, how much I've gone to the gym and exercised, I know every training detail.  Overestimating myself often ends up with me going too fast and ending up running out of energy.  Running a strong 70 miles in a 100 mile race means nothing when you still have 30 miles to go.  The fact is that if I accept myself as I am, I have the best chance at finishing the race in the best possible manner, finishing the full 100 miles at my best.

In the same way, when you are making a New Year's Resolution, it is vital that you are truthful to yourself.  You have to start at the beginning.  You must know where you are right now, in the present.  If you don't know where the starting point is, how are you going to get to the finish line?  How are you to take steps towards success?  Accept where you are, and you're already way ahead of the 92% of the people that make these New Year's Resolutions.  When you're being truthful to yourself, you also have to be truthful and realistic on your potential, what you are capable of doing, and how much you can grow.  The more you know yourself, the better you will be able to judge your own capabilities.  If you don't know your own abilities, or refuse to accept it, then you will not be able to move forward.  It's only through understanding your strength and weaknesses can you truly grow effectively and achieve your goals.

Make Each Day Count

The thing about running a 100 miler is that each step forward you take, you are closer to the finish line.  Every single step you take can take you closer to the finish line, and the accumulation of each and every one of those steps gets you to the end of the race.  Now, to me, it's a little too much to think of the whole 100 miles all at once from the beginning, because it's just way too much pressure.  I like to divide the race up into 6-8 mile increments and focus on that.  However, sometimes, even that may seem too much, so while I have the 6-8 mile increments in the back of my mind, I focus on running the most efficient mile I can run.  Each mile I run takes me to the 6-8 mile increment, and each increment I do gets me closer to the finish line.  Making each mile the most efficient mile possible, I am able to connect the miles together to make the most efficient increment.  Each increment I put together, I am able to create the best 100 mile race... only because I focused on each mile, making every mile count.

In achieving your New Year's Resolutions, although it may be important to keep the end in mind, should the end be so far away, divide everything up into what you're suppose to do each month, and then further divide everything up and make each day count.  The accumulation of those effective and efficient days will make way to a good habit, which in turn will shape you and continue the momentum and allow your months to become effective, and in turn, by the time the end of the year comes, each day you commit to your goal adds up and the you will be able to reach that high goal.  In my 100 mile analogy, if I want to go further, I can focus not just on every mile, but each and every step, because with every efficient step, the mile becomes easy.  The reason is that the past cannot change.  It's already done.  The future isn't here, and you can't really do anything about it, except to prepare for it.  The most important time you have is the present, because it is THIS moment right NOW that you can make a difference, you can take a step, and instead of looking back or forward, and putting your energy into the here and now, you are able to put it all in a place where you can make a difference.

The Drive and Plan

No matter what sport you play, if you add a strong spirit or drive to your set amount of skills, you will rise to a higher level.  If you add a good plan alongside the drive, your level of competition rises to an even higher level.  In order to achieve any sorts of goals, it is very important to have both the drive and plan.  The drive is the force that allows you to maximize your skill set to its full potential.  The plan is a map, a path where you can effectively move forward to your goal.  Knowing the obstacles and events that happen in your life, you can make a plan to get through them and effectively get to your goal.  When crossing a river, it would be unwise to jump first and then fight your way through the swift current to get to the other side.  Instead, it would be better for you to see the options that are before you and observe what you will go through and then take all your energy and follow the path you've thought up of.  

Obviously, a plan must be like a willow tree instead of an oak tree, a fluid guideline instead of set in stone, so that should anything unexpected happen, you are able to make your way around the problem.  I remember watching Bug's Life where a leaf fell and because their way of thinking was rigid, one ant had to lead the others around the leaf.  Keeping options open and remaining fluid allows you to accept what happens and quickly take the necessary steps to achieving your goal.  If you have a New Year's Resolution and have a proper drive and proper plan, you have a higher chance of success.  Remember that the Motivation will push you towards your goal, but the drive is the pull that gets you to your goal.  Most people make the mistake by believing that the motivation is what drives them forward.  Unfortunately, motivation will die out and you will get tired; however, if it is necessary for you to achieve your goals, the necessity pulls you to your goals because you MUST achieve it.  That Desire is the drive that you need to pull you up no matter how many times you get knocked down, and that drive is what continues to fuel you as you take the steps forward.

Regrettably, one day's worth of thoughts do not contain enough words and information to fully disclose how one can be the 8%, but my aim isn't to paint a perfect picture of how to achieve your goals.  My aim is to open eyes and help people understand and respect what it means to make a resolution.  The word 'resolution' is derived from the word 'resolve' and if your resolve isn't worth much, then go ahead, make a flimsy resolution that you probably won't achieve.  However, if you have the resolve and the dignity, and it is worth a lot to you, remember that as you make your resolution.  Take the proper steps and don't give it anything less than 100%.  A promise to yourself that you don't keep shows how little you respect yourself and your words.  If you are true to yourself, your actions should follow your words.

As for me and my New Year's Resolutions, I have a nice little list, but this is my main resolution, to become one of the top runners in the US. 

So here's my question to you all.  Are you going to be the 8% or the 92%?

I'm going to be the 8%

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