Stay Golden Pony Boy- Resolutions for 2019
by Justice of the Peach
Happy New Year friends and sports fans! There have been some bumps and bruises this last year, but we can head into 2019 with the happy thought that derby AT LAST has a new home in Denver, and that only a few beloved film and music stars died in 2018, as opposed to almost everyone who made the entertainment world worth viewing (lookin’ at you 2017). Before we launch into our current topic, we would like to express gratitude for the crazy amount of hard work that went into the new warehouse on Delaware Street, and also for the fact that Tom Petty can only die once.
This month’s topic is about resolutions for the New Year (yes, we know, how innovative), but instead of revving you up about all the things you immediately need to change about yourself, and how hard you failed this year, we’d like to discuss why you should really think about putting on a new pair of glasses to look at resolutions. To guide us through why she isn’t a fan of the typical New Year’s format is RMRG’s flame haired vixen, Sugar Pie Honey Punch:
“I’ve got mixed feelings on New Year’s. I’m a fan of looking at the new year as fresh start – a door opening up, new and exciting things to come, [but] I feel like people get stuck focusing on what went wrong the year prior. Sometimes, with the hurdles life throws at you, it’s hard not to go that route, at least a little bit. But – so much of that is beyond our control. Let’s celebrate that we overcame. I think it’s better to reflect on the wins we had the past year.”
Sugar’s attitude towards the focus on the positive is an important one, particularly for those who play sports. We’ve all had those days on the track where the only thing we can see is how bad our one footed plow is. This rapidly becomes our sole focus and the single aspect by which we judge our entire skating ability, even though all the other drills up to that point have been just fine. This is why WHAT we focus on is so important, and HOW we focus on it equally so. Enter a useful concept called reframing.
Take for example the thought, “I am bad at one footed plows.” Reframed, this could look like, “I need to improve on this exercise.” It may not seem like that big of a difference, but what it does is change your thinking platform, making you move forward toward your goals, as opposed to trying to move away from your weak points or bad habits. When you say, “I’m bad at this,” you’re prompting negative emotions. Some negative emotions are motivating -fear is a negative emotion, and it’s prompting you to climb up a rock away from an irate javelina is certainly motivating- but for the most part, the negative is not beneficial or useful, but boy do we like to hang onto it anyway. With our tendency to focus only on the negative, we get a partial and therefore inaccurate assessment of ourselves: “Bad Plow, I don’t know how to Derby” vs. “Could use some work on this thing, but pretty good at a bunch of other stuff.”
With the “man up,” mentality that’s so prevalent in our culture, it’s difficult to make the distinction between being diligent, determined and disciplined, and being just plain hard on ourselves. It’s as if we think that being mentally mean to ourselves will somehow magically give us the tools to succeed or encourage positive change, and then we wonder what went wrong when nothing improves or quite often gets worse. We focus on what’s “wrong” about ourselves and call it being driven. Really what it does is set people up for failure. Does this mean don’t evaluate yourself or change? Nope! The danger here is focusing only on those aspects which we dislike and nothing else.
The message here is not to blithely ignore your 10 packs of Easter peeps a day snack problem so you don’t feel bad about yourself. Rather, take a second to include positive aspects into your analysis so that you can evaluate yourself as a whole, instead of focusing solely on your peep problem, and making that your only criteria for self-assessment. If you include the things you are good at, or changes that you’ve already successfully accomplished while you’re evaluating and setting goals, it will set you far ahead of the curve on achieving more goals.
If you say, “I’m going to stop eating junk food,” you’re berating yourself before even getting started. You’re better off framing your goal as “eating healthier” so that you’ll remain motivated and optimistic, i.e. focus on moving toward carrots and not simply away from peeps. If you don’t have a positive action item to work toward, it’s unlikely there will be a whole lot of success with a project.
Resolutions are so often based on tangible results that we don’t set goals like, “I want to be a more fulfilled human,” and then planning for how to do that. “We make resolutions based on what we see as our flaws,” Sugar remarks, “I hate seeing people focused on fixing self-perceived problems.”
To examine this, let’s look at one of the most common of resolutions of going back to the gym. Most people don’t frame their gym resolutions around being stronger, staving off the family curse of diabetes, or to train for a marathon. We do it so we can look better, that “better,” being a beauty standard that most humans aren’t capable of achieving anyway (which is a whole other article in the making, but staying on point).
No wonder then, that most people fail out of this resolution at about the 3-month mark since your “goal,” comes from a place of self-dislike and self-perceived short comings -I’m too fat/flabby/skinny/ whatever. If instead you go work out with health as your priority, or to train for an event, you’re more likely to succeed at staying on track. You will also enjoy the happy biproducts of consistent exercise, like the diminishing flap of your bingo wings, without the frustrating aspect of poundage being your sole focus.
When we asked Sugar if she thought people set helpful goals or realistic expectations for themselves her reply was, “Nope – and then we’re all bummed on Dec. 31 because we’ve set ourselves up for failure. I think we focus way too much on metrics – like how many pounds lost or how many more dollars made. We should focus more on how we feel. Are we happy? Fulfilled? There aren’t numbers for that.”
People are usually not great at recognizing intangible success, that too, is part of our culture. If we don’t get dollars, diplomas or gold stars, most of the time we think that there has been no movement forward, or nothing has been successfully accomplished, and this is usually an inaccurate valuation. You’re not going to get a celebratory piece of paper for upholding the resolve of taking your dog for a walk every day instead of just when you can squeeze it in. It’s not an accomplishment equal to earning your PhD, but it still makes you a better pet owner, and probably a healthier person. We don’t take the small positive facets of our personality into consideration though because we are focused as Sugar says on the “metrics,” of life. Remember though, your being a good pet owner is the part of you people actually take see and take note of, not your bank account or your diploma. Since the point of resolutions is to become a better person, then small, everyday goals like these are what it’s all about. After all, as Shug says, “All those little improvements add up to some big success. We need to recognize and embrace our inner badass ;).”
It’s no coincidence that January, the gateway to the new year, is named after the Greek god Janus the two-faced god who looks to the past and the future, keeper of passages, transitions and beginnings. Think about which door would you like to open this year. Keep in mind you’re pretty great the way you are, but striving for self-improvement and change is part of being human. That’s also the great part about reframing your expectations ladies and gents; when you get to chose what you want to make better instead of hating on the parts you think are bad, goals turn into a whole new game. Just remember to keep your dreams big but your steps small and you’ll get there!
RMRG wishes everyone a healthy, wealthy and wise 2019 and if you want to celebrate the old and new years the way Sugar does, grab some, “good people, good food, and good drinks! And a pair of high heels 😉.”
We’ll see you on the other side!