Saturday, December 31, 2011

Why Wait?

It’s New Years Eve, I was sitting on my bike with my veins running coffee, a million thoughts running through my head, when it struck me what an odd place the eve of new years really is.  It’s like sitting on the edge of a cliff and below is a great unknown.  We know we’re going over, we’re just not sure where we’ll land.  

Perusing Facebook, most people were talking good riddance to 2011 and eagerly anticipating the good that would hopefully come in 2012.  The new year is like opening a gift - the possibility of what could be makes us want to tear right in.  With the risk of knowing it could be something we want to return.  But we'll take the chance.  It could be something great!   Worth the wait of an entire year.  

And then it occurred to me…why wait?

There’s something about the prospect of starting over – of wiping the slate clean, starting fresh, pretending like the past never happened to clutter our view of what’s possible in the future.  I, myself, have written dozens of these start over lists, dozens of goals with the start date of Monday, next week, next month, next year.  Sometimes we spend so much time waiting to start becoming the better version of ourselves and in that time, we keep on being the uglier version the self.  We binge, we go overboard, waiting for that designated date to start over and feel good about ourselves again.  

Think about how you feel after you write those start over lists.  Empowered, pleased and in control.  Lists make us hopeful.  List take what seems intangible and puts it within our reach.  Organizes us on how to take action.  And action leads to change, results, improvements. If I do x, y and z; if I commit to this – what could I be?  If I do all of my training sessions, eat well, get to bed early – could I set that new PR?  Win my age group?  Achieve that next big thing?  For that, I sit down at the end of the year and make a list.  Of where I want to be next December.  Of my checkpoints along the way.   

(but sometimes these lists just scream: I’m flawed.  FIX ME!  The list gets bigger.  More things to work on.  The pressure!  Sigh.  Accepting who you are – here, now, for better, for worse – should be a part of our new years resolution.  #1 on the list.  Here I am, with imperfections, things I could do better – all of these idiosyncracies making up the fabric of me.  There is nothing wrong with me.  If I was perfect, what would be the point of living?  I would have mastered everything and had no more need to learn.  Failing, learning, dreaming – these are all things in life that make it worth living) 

Why do we wait until December to write our start over lists?  Why not every Sunday before the next week?  Better yet, every morning?  This process of looking for more in ourselves, our goals and then setting forth and action plan on how to get there – why not spend more time on that?  I know: we’re busy, we’re distracted, we’re waiting for the next start over date to be a kick in the ass.

But why wait? 

If you took action now – if you let go of that bad habit now, if you started over now, if you dreamed big RIGHT NOW – where would you be?  Next week?  Next December?  Does your “list” contain things that you were supposedly working on last year?  What happened?  Why do you keep waiting?

I think in life, far too often we “wait” to press the reset button.  We get trapped in our bad habits, losing sight of the fact that every day we make choices. We get caught up in the busyness and messiness of life.  Distracted.  We put off the big things (change) to complete the little things (grocery shopping – again?).  You choose to be who you are and do what you do.  Food doesn’t control you.  Other people don’t control you.  Life doesn’t control you.  You create it.  Things happen to us but you always choose your reaction.   

15 miles have gone by.  I’ve pedaled 15 miles and gone nowhere.  Sadly, sometimes an analogy for life, isn’t it?  But in that time, I’ve thought a lot about the new year.  How we need to take all of that hope and enthusiasm for our own possibility in the new year and spread it more evenly throughout the year.  Heck, every day.  Start each morning with #1 on the list: I’m not perfect, but I’m ok.  I’m a work in progress.  And the rest of the things on this list, I will work on them to make that progress.  And if I do a little bit of work every day, next December I’ll be in a better place – I’ll know more, I’ll have lived more, I’ll have taken action more.  That will make me a better version of myself.

Sometimes all we need to start over in life is remind ourselves that every day we have the control, power and ability to take action.  Here, now it begins.  It starts now.  And if not now – then when?  And why?  Whatever you want to change or do, it can happen.  No need to wait until tomorrow or the next year.  Start now, take a little bit of action every day and over time – how can you not get there?  How can you NOT consider your effort, your self, your year a success?

It’s December 31, 2011.  You’re sitting on the edge of the cliff.  And the good news – you know where you can land.  Things will happen along the way, some good, some bad but you’re always in control.  You make choices. You take action.  You set goals.  You write lists.  The new year doesn’t have to be a mystery, a place where we “wait” for good things to come to us.  Go out and make them happen.  A little bit every day.  You’ll get there. 


Jessica (Pace of Me) said...

this is an excellent post - so true, so wise. so exactly what i needed to read in this moment. thanks elizabeth, and happy new year to you!

Caroline said...

I'm one of Jen's athletes and I effing love your blog. Great post on something that's truly relevant every day. I hope 2012 is awesome for you!

Tory said...

I completely agree, I think the hard part really comes from what keeps of from making the list a reality. How do we actaully get us to be the people we think or want to be. I also think it's important to really look at the list and understand why we want those things. For the longest time I had the same thing on my list, Position number one was the same to do or goal. I finally took it off and abandoned it. I'm not sure if I'm just not ready to commit to it or it's more that it's not the right goal for me at this point in my life. I also think that I knew that it wasn't going to give me the happiness that I expected it to.

Who knows, awesome blog Liz! I'm missing having you as a coach all the time!