2017 hasn’t exactly started off with the “bang” I was hoping for. Well, unless by “bang” we mean, “BANG! You suddenly have a cold/sinus infection thingy that is here to throw off your whole week and make you feel miserable!”
The first week of January (once we begrudgingly say goodbye to holiday vacation time and trudge back into our normal lives), is usually the freshest week of the year. The gyms are crowded with bushy-tailed goal-setters, all throughout social media feeds and office refrigerators are colorful salads and leftover healthy crockpot meals, the internet is overpopulated with listicles about how to be productive, do it all, and have your best.year.EVER, and everywhere you go there is a pep in the air which rivals that of the holiday season, as everyone resolves to detox their bodies and souls and be some better version of themselves. Resolution madness is at its peak in the first couple weeks of January, before the pull of old habits and the realization that change takes hard work have time to set in.
But instead of charging across the starting line of 2017 with everyone else, I clumsily stumbled across it. 9 days into January and I already find myself besieged by setbacks and still stuck in a weird post-holiday limbo. The cold I got on Weds-Thurs of last week wasn’t too horrible – I didn’t miss any work – but it sapped my energy and I missed a couple runs and strength training days. The other thing about being sick is that it also made me kind of moody and detached, likely a result of the physical fatigue. Our trip to Mexico this week comes at a time when I’m peppered with work deadlines and pop-up projects and just finally starting to get into a routine, leaving me feeling stressed instead of excited about a few days in warm sunny paradise. The stress and the sickness has me feeling like I’m living in a fog, watching the days tick by.
The result, needless to say, is that all those fun goals and resolutions feel light years away, like they were set by another person in another far-off era. So instead of flying high on motivation and a surge of productivity, I feel like it’s already December again, and I’m facing down moments of looking at all those goals and wondering, “what am I thinking? I can’t do all this crap. I can’t even be a normal functioning adult and get out of bed on Saturday mornings.”
(I will say that not all my goals are in the suffer tank right now – I did get a ton of reading done this week. Let no one say I don’t take lemons and make lemonade!)
Anyway, lest it seem like I’m making a mountain out of a molehill, I’m gonna cut the pity party and get to the actual point of this post. Believe it or not, I’m not just writing this to vent (okay, maybe a little…)
Heather recently wrote a great post about having a guiding mantra instead of a concrete running goal for 2017, and it made me think about how I could use something similar to get myself through sticky weeks like this one. Thinking about how laughable my goals have felt in my blah moments lately, I knew immediately what it needed to be.
Kara Goucher once said, “keeping the dream alive is half the battle.” We’re always so focused on what to do to achieve our goals that we forget how important it is to keep ourselves motivated and feeling positive toward them. Obviously doing the work is important, but – and forgive me being a little presumptuous here – I think where a lot of people go off the rails with goals and resolutions is that they don’t think about what they’ll do when the work doesn’t come easy, when the thrill wears off, when life throws them curveballs that make it hard to stay motivated. This is especially true with goals that are further away in time, such as yearly or 5-year goals. The pursuit requires more patience and doesn’t afford us the instant gratification we crave, so it becomes so much easier in the beginning to give in to excuses, to convince ourselves that what we do now doesn’t matter, and as I’ve experienced these past 10 days, to feel in moments of stress that it is just not worth it and that I might as well give up on it while I haven’t invested much time or energy into it yet.
Keeping the dream alive is hard. Sure, there will be awesome easy days. But as anyone who has ever pursued any goal will tell you, there will be more days that are hard or uneventful. There will be more weeks that are hard and uneventful. Anyone who says otherwise is either not being honest or isn’t making very challenging goals. But my last 7 months of 2016 were all about giving in to excuses and not wanting to work for anything, and I’m a little tired of excuses. I’m tired of feeling stuck.
So my guiding mantra for all of my goals this year, and all those moments, is “keep the dream alive.” None of my goals are unreasonable for me, and I picked them because I know that even if I don’t achieve some of them, it will be worthwhile just to try. So whenever life hits a lull or I experience a setback, I’m going to remember that. I’m going to tell myself to keep that dream alive.