Although there is probably not a word strong enough to express just how much I loathe the colder weather and precipitation that accompanies it, I have to admit that I do enjoy this time of year. I’m a “finisher;” someone who gets a bigger kick out of squeezing the VERY LAST drop of toothpaste out of the tube as opposed to feeling satisfaction in starting a new one. I like to reach a point of completion on a personal or work project whether that is in total or just my small part of the big picture. This is in contrast to an “opener” who really gets enthusiastic about starting new things. Both have their merits and drawbacks. But given this tendency, I have to say that although I appreciate and look forward to the power that the “fresh start” of a new year brings, I’m also surprised by how ubiquitous year-in-review messages are already. Yes, it’s November, but that means there are still EIGHT weeks left in 2018 which is plenty of time to still count towards some of our big goals, resolutions, and projects.
While it’s certainly valid to make more space for relaxation and quality time with others throughout the upcoming holiday season and things are generally more “busy,” I think that too often we tend to adopt “tomorrow logic” and think that we can or should wait to start a new habit until the New Year. Some people (myself included) are already enthusiastically planning their 2019, but seem to be oblivious to the fact that there is plenty of time to start now. There might be some resolutions or goals for this year which could still be achieved within these last few months or at the very least some progress could be made. It’s enough time to wrap up some loose ends or even possibly start laying the foundation for new habits you’ll be working on in 2019. And if one of your goals is to improve your health or build an exercise routine in the coming year, I would even more strongly urge that there is no time like the present.
Expert in all things confidence related, psychologist Leslie Sokol, PhD argues that exercise is a life skill. Her work shows that “the act of exercising can be a microcosm for everything you tackle in life. Participating in exercise, whether it is a formal class in a gym, using fitness equipment, participating in a sport or active hobby, walking, taking on nature, running steps, or any physical effort involves commitment, effort, perseverance, and follow through.” The way that we succeed in nearly any area of our lives, is to set a goal and commit to achieving it by making it a priority, scheduling time to do it, and then actually doing it by giving up other things or making compromises and enduring discomfort or challenges along the way. To be successful in enhancing your fitness, you must put forth effort – but as you become healthier/stronger/faster/leaner, you feel a sense of accomplishment which Sokol describes as “confidence boosting and [which] better prepares you to face future challenges.” And the same is true for succeeding in life. Her research shows that learning perseverance and “embracing fitness as a lifetime goal is great practice for achievements that require long term dedication.”
I’ve written before about some of the reasons why exercise is a foundational habitwhich affects us in a myriad of ways that improve our self-command and ability to stay committed to and reach our higher level or seemingly unrelated goals. Aside from the purely physical benefits, exercise makes us happier, reduces stress, improves mental health, bolsters self-confidence and potentially provides more opportunities for us to connect with others. All things that will make a world of difference when 2019 and your new list of intentions roll around. There is still plenty of time to do something of impact this year and I am trying to remind myself to maximize that precious opportunity!