One down, 11 to go. Yup, the first month of the year is over today. And with it has gone likely millions of resolutions to lose weight, work out more, pay off credit cards and live more fully.
Most people who have made those new year resolutions have slid back to their old ways, and have taken out the belt from their metaphorical closet and are whipping themselves for their failures to live up to the goals they set. This is a very human, and common, reaction when we let ourselves down. It serves no good purpose but to satisfy this perverse desire to punish ourselves, which becomes our reward, in that it allows us to continue to sabotage ourselves. We think that we have already screwed up, so we might as well just keep going down a wrong path.
There’s an old saying that I learned many years ago; “It’s never too late to stop going down a wrong path.” But as I tell the men on my website, www.mensfamilylaw.com, when it’s time to move on, do so intelligently. We have the ability to be self-correcting. When we see that we have set a goal and taken the first step, but then faltered, it is not the end of the trip. It is time to pick ourselves up, dust off the dirt, and move forward.
By taking the next step or action, we not only become closer to the original goal, we also are teaching ourselves how to continue on in spite of fears and negative thinking. Each time that we stand up after we stumble we reinforce persistence as a positive character trait, and if we recognize it as such, we can then take the step after, to get closer to our ultimate goal.
For many of us, this is the time to suit up again, to get back in the game, and restart that diet, go to the gym and sweat a bunch. The end of January is often a sad, cold time, not just weather wise, but from a spiritual or emotional standpoint. I want to encourage people to take a deep breath, dig deep and see this week not as the end of January, but as the start of February. A time to really begin again, to find the real renewal after the hype and hopes of New Year’s day have faded, and if we pick up the baton one more time we can make it further down the track.
And yes, we will trip and fall along this path, but each time we do and get back up we become stronger and more able. Henry Ford once famously said, “If you want to succeed more, fail more.” By that he meant try more avenues to success and you are more likely to find the success you seek, but also to go down paths that are not the correct path. By eliminating that which doesn’t work, we come closer to that which will.
As Arthur Conan Doyle wrote, using the voice of Sherlock Holmes, “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” Similarly, each time we have eliminated a path that does not work, we come closer to those that do.
For example, I am not a fan of aerobic exercise. But I need to do it more than I need to lift weights. Given my body type, cardio is challenging for me mentally because I don’t see results. When I lift weights, I see size and definition increase almost immediately. I have the type of body that is designed to carry heavy loads and march into foreign lands and take over. I am not a runner, I’m a trudger, which is precisely why I need to do something different. For me that is swimming at the Loews Hotel on Ocean Avenue. I find that cardio in the pool is more interesting to me, and consequently, I am more willing to do it. But I had to go through many other types of cardio to find what works for me.
I encourage others to keep pursuing their goals, and never fear to try different paths to the goal and remember the journey only ends when we stop trying.
David Pisarra is a family law attorney focusing on father’s rights and men’s Issues in the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (310) 664-9969.