Dear 26: I Promise to Stop Breaking Promises

 

I thought making a list of 26 things I want to accomplish this year would be a great way to celebrate my birthday. And then I realized, wow that’s going to be a really long blog post. No one is going to read that. Well, except maybe my dad.

And if you are reading this… hi, dad.

I still have a list of 26 things I want to achieve before I turn 27, but it’s at the very end of this post. You know, in case you’re not interested in lists that long.

For now, I’ve been asking myself what’s the most important thing I want to change that I’ve done a bad job at last year. And that requires taking a hard look at the past year.

So Long 25, I’m Not Sad to See You Go

I spent most of this past year just straight up uncomfortable, overwhelmed and uncertain of myself and what I should be doing.

In fact, I woke up on the morning of my 25th birthday to finding an empty parking spot where I parked my car the night before and paying a towing company almost $200 to get back something that I already owned.

So, should I have been surprised that this last year was…weird? Lonely? Awkward? I guess with how I spent that morning, no. But I was because it wasn’t exactly how I pictured my first year out of college.

I got my first job in marketing as a junior copywriter (a total accident I’m still on the fence about), moved into my first apartment by myself and adopted my first dog. Love you, Bart.

All those things look and sound really great on paper.

But as I’ve been transitioning from college to this new world I’m in, sacrificing a run here and there is a really bad habit when I’m tired or things are hectic at work because spoiler alert: I’m always tired and things only get more hectic at work every day.

Instead of lacing my shoes up when I get home from work and just getting it over with, I tell myself I deserve a break from working so hard and proceed to do…nothing. For months.

While rewatching Michael Scott call Dwight an ignorant slut from the roof of Dunder Mifflin on The Office for the seventh time feels pretty nice after a long day, it’s not giving me anything good to feel about in the long run. And that’s how I found myself running a half marathon last April that I didn’t really train for.

And when I said “didn’t really train for” I mean “my longest training run was 7 miles.”

Dear 26: I Promise to Stop Breaking Promises

So, when I think about the one thing I want to work on this year, it’s simple. Stop breaking promises I make to myself. Even when things are out of control, I’m tired and my best friend’s Netflix account is calling my name.

I started running five years ago after I’d never done anything resembling exercise in my life. It was hard and painful, which was expected. What I didn’t expect was for it to bring out the best in me. For the first time, I was proving to myself that I could do difficult things. Things I thought I wouldn’t ever be capable of in my life.

And since that very first awkward and painful run five years ago, I’ve run seven half marathons, and I’m registered for my eighth in February.

While I’m still in that transitional season of my life, it’s more important than ever that I stop breaking my promise to myself. I need to run consistently enough to benefit from that powerful confidence and emotional strength running gives me.

So, this year I’m putting my focus and energy back into running with the goal of running two half marathons, two 5ks for time and one 10k for time. And this time I’m not being lenient with myself. I’m holding myself accountable by running four times a week minimum until my training plan for the Disney Princess Half Marathon starts in December and has me running five times a week for 16 weeks.

I’ve been sticking to this for over a month and a half now and so far, I haven’t broken my promise and it feels great. I feel like I can count on myself again and this missing side of myself has finally decided to make her long-awaited appearance.

That being said, there’s going to be plenty of future posts about building my base back up again, how training for a half marathon is magical and terrible at the same time and what pair of running shoes I end up buying for training after I’ve worn the same pair for two and a half years.

In the meantime, here’s my list of things I want to accomplish during my 26th year!

26 for 26

  1. Run a 5k race in 26 minutes
  2. Run a 10k in 58 minutes
  3. Break 2:15 at the Disney Princess Half Marathon
  4. Break up with Coca Cola
  5. Drink two bottles of kombucha a week
  6. Add more plant-based foods to my diet
  7. Read two books a month
  8. Only miss church if I’m out of town
  9. Write one blog post a month
  10. Donate to more charities that are important to me
  11. Spend one hour a week with the Bible
  12. Get out on more walks with Bart
  13. Start investing
  14. Keep working out four times a week
  15. Lift weights twice a week
  16. Take more online courses in copywriting and social media
  17. Put on the damn sunscreen
  18. Explore more of Florida outside of the Tampa Bay area and Orlando
  19. Make a big step towards the kind of career I want to have
  20. Pay off my credit cards
  21. Buy a medal rack for my racing medals
  22. Expand my cooking skills every so slightly
  23. Go to yoga once a month
  24. Buy a keyboard and start learning how to play
  25. Spend some quality time with my foam roller
  26. Spend my 27th birthday with my best friends from back home
New Years Resolution

7 Steps to Keeping Your New Year’s Resolution and Crushing Your Goals

 

My New Year’s resolution is to create more content and have a consistent running schedule. But I’m not good at resolutions. Making them, planning for them, keeping them – nothing ever gives. I always fall off the wagon and settle back into old routines and habits after a few weeks.

In fact, 80 percent of people fail to keep their resolution by February. While I’m relieved I’m in great company, I know that if we can understand why we’re failing to keep them it’s possible to create a plan that works for each of us.

While spending time thinking of the areas in my life I’d like to improve upon in the new year, I set out on a search to discover the best ways to go about making a New Year’s resolution so my chances of keeping it were higher than they had been in past years.

During that time I spent researching, I compiled a list of seven crucial steps we need to take in order to increase our chances of keeping our New Year’s resolutions:

1. Be Realistic

Whatever your resolution may be, it’s most important that it be realistic. Deciding to finally get in shape, cutting out bad foods from your diet completely or diving headfirst into learning a new skill can set you up for failure if you’re not the type of person that can reach a goal just by deciding that you want to.

If you decide this is the year you’ll finally prioritize getting in shape, be specific and decided what that looks like to you. Do you want to lose 30 pounds or do you want to go to the gym five days a week?

Then break it into a series of mini goals like:

Begin the new year by going to the gym twice a week for the entire month of January
Make it to the gym three times a week for the entire month of February
Go to the gym four times a week for the entire month of March
Finally, in April bump gym visits up to five times a week

Don’t fall victim to a huge goal by trying to tackle it right from the jump. Small steps lead to big changes. Patience and consistency pay off.

2. Pick a One-Word Theme

This step comes from a special holiday hack episode of the podcast Happier with Gretchen Rubin. The idea of having a one-word theme is to choose a word or short phrase that sums up what you want to focus on in the new year, so you have an extra layer of protection that will make sure you stay on track to keeping your resolution.

This is by far my favorite step. Maybe because it’s the easiest and where we can get creative.

My one-word theme for 2018 is create. For me, 2018 will be focused on creating content for The Running Writer along with creating a new running routine that works with my new schedule. To hold myself accountable, I’ll be writing the word create on post-it notes that will find homes on my laptop, my desk at work, my car and even a mirror or two in my apartment.

3. Find a Source of Accountability

Accountability is an old and true trick to getting stuff done, and a step that is the deciding factor to whether I succeed or fail at meeting expectations.

There are a lot of different routes you can take to find the source of accountability that works for you. For example, you can tell a loved one about your New Year’s resolution and ask them to check in on you so you’ll continue to move in the right direction, or you can find a friend that has the same or a similar resolution and create a plan to accomplish your goals together.

Life has taught us all that it’s much harder to throw in the towel when someone is counting on us.

4. Make and Track Your Plan

Another important step to increasing your chances of keeping a New Year’s resolution is to think ahead and create a plan that you can start on January 1 that requires little to no thought.

If your goal is to eat healthier you can plan what you’ll eat for each meal of the day by meal prepping or writing down each meal on a calendar at the beginning of each week. This will ensure you avoid straying off track and eating something you want to cut out of your diet.

Having a plan eliminates the decision-making process from your daily checklist, which means you’ll do what you need to without taking up any extra energy, or facing the “should I or shouldn’t I” debate.

When you spend enough time sticking to your plan, it becomes a brainless habit.

5. Visualize the End Result

It sounds silly, but visualization is powerful.

The first week or month of keeping a resolution is easy because it feels exciting and motivation is fresh. But, once the excitement wears off and you lose motivation ( you will lose it, sorry), staying on track seems impossible.

During challenging times, picture the end result. What will your life look like? How will you feel telling your friends and family that you’ve accomplished your big goal? What doors will open when you meet your resolution?

Imagining the end result helps you to continue moving forward when you’re running on fumes and thinking of calling it quits.

6. Get Comfortable Feeling Uncomfortable

When I’m uncomfortable I have trouble following through, and I’m willing to bet this is where most people start to fall off the wagon. But for better or worse, being uncomfortable is where growth happens.

We make resolutions because there are areas in our lives that need improvement. It’s probably safe to say we need to make progress in these areas because we’re too comfortable making the easier choice. The truth is, the easy choice usually isn’t the best choice and usually turns into a trap for bad habits.

Lean into that uncomfortable feeling that makes you wonder why you thought you could tackle this “impossible goal.” This is where you’ll start to flourish, and waiting on the other side is the boatload of success we both know you’re capable of.

The more you lean in, the more comfortable you’ll eventually begin to feel. Just imagine what else you can accomplish with that kind of confidence!

7. Keep Trying

I’m going to take a wild guess and say you’re reading this blog post because your track record of meeting New Year’s resolution is similar to mine – a little (or very) spotty.

But despite past failures, you’re still willing to give it another try this year. That’s the same attitude you need when you slip up on your goal for the first time in January, or the second time in February and even the hundredth time in October.

Slip-ups are a non-negotiable part of the process but don’t confuse them as excuses to try again next year. Your results depend entirely on how you respond to setbacks. Deciding not to get back up after falling off track hasn’t cut it in the past, and it certainly won’t cut it this year.

Final Thoughts:

I know it’s going to be hard, and you’re going to feel out of your element trying to build your new habit when the fun wears off. But nothing worth having ever comes easy.

Whether you’re frantically trying to make a New Year’s resolution seconds before the ball drops on New Year’s Eve, trying to maintain your goal in February, or feel like your efforts have completely derailed on January 2, use these seven steps as a guide to ensure you’re setting the right goal and remind yourself of how capable you are.

If your New Year’s resolution is to run more, or just be more active in general, join my mailing list and you’ll get a free PDF of my three best tips to turn running into a habit straight to your inbox!

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Let’s hold each other accountable to reach our goals by talking about our resolutions in the comments below!

Until next time,

17 of the Biggest Lessons I Learned In College

Yesterday at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, I graduated from William Paterson University with a Bachelor’s in Communication/Public Relations. I can’t believe I can FINALLY say that! Nothing I’ve ever experienced has topped what I felt hearing my name called and walking across the stage. 

This achievement is not one that came easily. It took six years of praying, hard work, risks and blind faith to get to this day, as I chose to take a road less traveled. I used to be painfully insecure that I didn’t finish in four years, but now I’d rather thank God for every second of the last six years. If I had been in a rush to graduate in four years I wouldn’t have the right degree, I wouldn’t have had my dream internship with the Walt Disney World Resort (twice!) or the people I’ve met throughout my time with the company, and most importantly I wouldn’t be this version of me.

William Paterson University
Karlee will forever be my exit buddy! Credit: WPUNJ

Along with this exciting / nerve wracking / rewarding season of my life has come a load of reflecting. There’s a plethora of lessons I’ve learned over the last six years, but I couldn’t pass up jotting down 17 of them in honor of being part of the class of 2017:

  1. Life isn’t a straight line.
  2. I’m capable of more than I know.
  3. My past doesn’t define who I am or where I’m going.
  4. Maybe don’t procrastinate that much.
  5. BUT some of my best work came out of procrastinating, so…
  6. Not all family is biological.
  7. Wherever / Whatever your bubble is…leave it.
  8. It’s okay to change my mind and not know what I’m doing.
  9. Sometimes getting where you’re going means leaving people you love behind, but it doesn’t mean erasing them.
  10. Things will get worse before they get better.
  11. The big moments are incredible, but it’s the small ones that make up life. Don’t miss out on them because you’re too focused on the big one.
  12. Nothing is permanent, holding on to that when I didn’t think I’d make it was exactly how I got through.
  13. My journey is incredibly unique and I shouldn’t have wasted time yearning for it to match the journey’s of others and be convenient for everyone else
  14. Find whatever it is you love to do and run with it.
  15. If you can dream it, you can do it (Stole this one from Mr. Walt Disney himself, sorry!).
  16. Nothing inside the college bubble will beat the experiences that are outside of it. Thank you Disney for teaching me that.
  17. I still have a LOT of learning to do!
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My cap was crooked for the entire ceremony, but do I look like I care? Credit: WPUNJ

I guess what I’m saying is that the best parts of life are the ones where you take risks. There’s never a right moment and there’s never a guarantee, so you just have to set a goal and chase it one step at a time just like running.

Take the trip. Open the book. Leave the comfort of that relationship. Make the move.

Whatever it is you’re thinking about doing…do it.

The finish line is everything more than you’ll ever imagine.

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