"Man, you've got a real hate on for New Year's Resolutions!" he said, when I saw him yesterday. But that's not quite right. I don't dislike goal-setting. I dislike the cycle of failure set in motion by short-term promises without long-term vision.
Focusing on the "what," instead of the "how" is a big problem in the world of exercise. Part of the reason CrossFit is such an epiphany for many of us is its focus on a different Capital 'Q': Quality. THEN Quantity, the second brother. Practice the work, march toward Better. New Year's Resolutions that don't focus on improving the underlying mechanism – or the foundations of your beliefs and behaviour – can't possibly work in the long term.
Right: how would you possibly measure success in the 'Spreading of Joy' resolution?
It's time to star in your own Christmas Pageant. In this variation, you star as Moses [yes, I know: he's not in the Christmas story. Neither were decorated spruce trees. Play along.] You're up on the mountaintop, looking over your flock, and here comes The Voice: "Moooooses…."
But this time, you're told to turn around. Look within, Bearded One. Instead of "Thou shalt not…," I'd like you to carve your own Commandments.
I'm not talking about goal-setting. These aren't destinations; they're paths. These are rules by which you'll vow to live your life in 2011. Carve them into granite, and aim for 80% compliance (as any good Catholic would.) These are the roads that lead to Damascus.
For instance: "I will follow the Zone eating style for 90% of my meals in 2011."
I'm not asking for specific goals, like a 250lbs clean, but rather specific rules by which you'll play your own game next year. On the other hand, though, don't be ambiguous:
"I'll be a better person." Nah. Instead, vow to quit swearing, if you think you should (not me. I really, really like swearing. It's like the coconut oil in my coffee: it makes the WODs better, and greases the wheels on everything else.)
"I'll practice cleans once per week, at a minimum." That's one of mine.
Another: "I will write at least 750 words every day." I'll use 750words.com to help remind me.
It's better to have 5 really solid Life Rules than 10 weaker ones. Don't add, "Call Mom Every Sunday" just to round out the list. Make five or six good rules, and stick to them.
"I will complete 80% of the workouts posted on the CrossFit main site."
"I will read one book per month."
"I will save one hundred dollars per month."
This year: no resolutions. Instead, self-Commandments. Autoregulation. Rules by which you promise to abide.
And call your mom.