On intentions, resolutions and sharing our stories

This is not a New Year’s resolutions post. Well, all right, it is. Because everywhere you turn this time of year people are writing about resolutions — how to make them, how to keep them, how to shut the hell up about them and just live your damn life without asking for applause, thank you very much. It’s fitting to write about New Year’s resolutions as I launch The Accidental Athlete blog (née: Byline to Finish Line). New beginnings. New projects. New stories. It all goes hand-in-hand with the new year, right?

On the same day I read two articles about New Year’s resolutions. One discussed ways to make resolutions attainable by basically using the SMART goal method which in essence is about making goals which are specific and measurable. Then I read an anti-resolution article which touted making intentions rather than specific goals. Still later I saw a post which urged people to set goals, keep quiet about them and applaude for yourself.

Here’s the thing: I vote for whatever works for you is where you go. But it doesn’t need to be an all or nothing approach.

For years I worked with a wonderful life coach, Tracy Jarvis (who sadly passed away a few years ago from ovarian cancer). After she’d let me whine and wail about frustrations in my life to get my story out she would ask me two questions:

1. What do you want?
2. How will you know that you’ve achieved what you wanted?

Sometimes we have a broad desire. I want to be happy. I want to be healthy. Sometimes we have a narrow focus. I want to lose 10 pounds. I want to run a 5K personal best. 

In my experience I found that when I connect the big desires to specifics I find more satisfaction and a better path to getting what I want. As a bonus, I often end up with new ways of achieving my goals I otherwise wouldn’t have thought of because I am not fixated on one way. So I ask, When I am happy and healthy, what will that look like to me?

The miles for 2015 are behind but a fresh page starts today.

The miles for 2015 are behind but a blank page greets us in this moment.

When my goals are specific, connecting them to a larger “why” keeps the goal in perspective and removes (or reduces) the pressure of perfection. Why do I want to run a 5K personal best? Because I want to improve my fitness and challenge myself. When that becomes the focus, the 5K goal usually follows. Better yet, if it doesn’t I no longer deem myself a “failure” because that specific measurement was not the be-all-end-all of my journey.

For the record, I do want to be happy and healthy. I want to improve my fitness and challenge myself. I am not looking to run a 5K PR this season or lose 10 pounds. But I do want to incorporate a daily yoga practice to my training, meditate daily and drink more water.

As we move into 2016, it’s a perfect chance to sit still if only for a few minutes and listen to what our inner athlete is asking of us. What is she (or he) longing to do? Does she want to race or does she want to dance? Does she want to explore trails or try her hand at lifting heavy weights in the gym? How does she want to move? What will your life look like when you start paying attention to what your inner athlete is asking of you? Will you be doing intervals or practicing Tai-Chi? Eating more kale or forgiving yourself for having dessert last night — and the night before that?

Tell me your stories and I’ll tell you mine. It’s not about asking for applause or looking for accountability. It’s about sharing our unique, crazy, sometimes frustrating, athletic portions of our life’s journey and becoming inspired along the way.

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