The gym is a fascinating place during the month of January each year.
Recently I enjoyed watching a young man use one of the machines in the gym like he was trying to start a lawnmower and jerk down as much weight as possible while screaming at the top of his lungs and shaking like he was having a seizure. Many of us stopped to watch (not out of awe from the weight he was pulling) and I personally got a good chuckle. Like many others, he was new to the gym. But his goal wasn’t health, it was to impress people and get them to notice.
There’s even one guy who just talks loudly on his phone to his buddies while “working out.” He continues his phone conversation throughout his workout, which consists of a few reps and smiles at the young ladies in the gym. It’s a common occurrence come January and often joked about in popular culture when fitness clubs get flooded with people starting their “New Year’s resolutions” to be healthier in the New Year.
By March, however, they’ll be gone and it’ll be the same people who were there last year day in and day out putting in the time and discipline.
And it makes me wonder, “Why do we wait an entire year to set new goals for areas in our lives we know we aren’t living up to?”
Shouldn’t our resolutions be daily? So why do we wait an entire year to start working on the areas we know need improvement? If I know I should be healthier then why wait till January to start eating right and go to the gym? If I know I have a problem drinking too often why do I wait till next year to start working on that? If I have dreams I want to pursue, or addictions like smoking I want to kick why wait an entire year before I say “NOW’S THE TIME! JANUARY WILL CHANGE EVERYTHING!”
I think the reason we do this is because we set our goals too high and what we begin aiming for is completely unrealistic.
Imagine if you came to me and said, “I’m buying a mansion this year.” But you and I both know you currently work at McDonalds making minimum wage. My natural inclination is going to roll my eyes and shake my head just like the lifers in the gym seeing the new influx of people making claims they can’t live up to.
The mansion is an unrealistic goal and the bar is way to high for you to buy in your current state as a McDonalds employee. But it’s not unrealistic if you begin small and work at it year round, day after day. Imagine instead you start saving small and then begin being mentored by someone who understands investments. Then you change careers and begin investing money, getting out of debt, furthering your education while continuing to make small sacrifices for the big goal in mind. Then you become interested in owning your own McDonalds, your own franchise, and find investors. Then you diversify your stock holdings and create multiple income avenues always moving upward until one day you can afford to buy a mansion. You will have eventually reached your goal not by putting a down payment on a mansion while you were a McDonalds employee, but saving your money and making small changes and adjustments to your lifestyle.
Most of us are putting down payments on mansions we can’t afford come January. So when we inevitably fail at the new goals we’ve outlined for the New Year there’s guilt, shame, and remorse. We believe we don’t have what it takes and so we wait a whole other year to just set ourselves up for failure again and wonder why we can’t climb out of the rut.
But instead of trying to jump out of the rut in one single superhuman leap this year, what if we start tapping small pegs into the wall and begin that climb? What if our ascent to the Mt. Everest of goals began with a single step, then another, then another day after day?
I believe we’d have a lot more people planting their flag at the top of the mountain instead of staring at the daunting task ahead and giving up before they ever began.