Tuesday, 5 January 2010


This time of year I run into a lot of Resolutionists at the track, or gym or pool.  On one hand, it is good to see people - and sometimes families - making the effort to get off the couch. On the other, more grumpy hand, I get annoyed by the bigger crowds, the poor lane etiquette and the general lack of awareness with these occasional exercisers. They don't seem to understand that some people might be focused on hitting a certain speed or heart rate and are not that keen on stopping cold from a full sprint just because the person walking in the running lane in front of them has decided to stop, bend over, and tie a shoelace.

Whew! Got that out of my system. Besides, most of them will be gone in a few weeks, sadly. Let me start again.

This time of year I find myself thinking a lot about resolutions. I've never been one for making them. I was the kid who got the failing grade on the "what would you do if you had six months to live?" assignment. I wrote: Exactly what I'm doing right now... Now, even though that wasn't entirely truthful in that I really had no interest being in class and subjected to an overused life planning teaching module, I still believed in the essence of what I wrote. Do what you want to do and don't do what you don't want to do. 

Of course, it isn't always practical to only do what you want to do especially with family, work and other obligations. But that doesn't mean you can't find some kernel of interest or curiosity or challenge in everything you do or have to do. I plan my life in such a way that maximizes what I  want to do and minimizes what I don't want to do. And I constantly evaluate,  so that I don't become too much of an ass or ogre to the people around me - I hope.

So, living this philosophy as best as I can, why would I make a resolution? And especially why make one at the change of the year...don't even get me started about western civilization's bizarre fascination with the turning of the calendar pages.

Training for triathlons and multisports has taught me a few life lessons. One of them is to plan, prepare, practice and perform. There is no room here for an "I resolve to..." How do you enter the water and not drown? How do you get off your bike and still remember how to run? How to you coax gallons of crap down your throat and actually digest it without spewing...while running?

I find this applies to lots of other things in life, such as giving speeches, changing diapers, running a meeting, buying groceries, dealing with an irate caller, convincing a teenager to do chores, saying sorry when I mess up...

I also find that the more I consciously plan, prepare, practice and perform, the easier it gets to do it subconsciously. I have managed to internalize the process without turning into a mantra-chanting freak, not that there would be anything wrong with that, per se.

A few years back, on the morning of the longest, most important triathlon of my life, I remembered some meaningful words a very wise, virtual stranger wrote to me. I wrote them on my hand and looked at them during the 14 hours and 19 minutes it took me to finish my first Ironman.

Did these words get me through the race? Probably not. The planning, preparation and practice did. But those words were an, albeit Sisyphean, reminder of what I had to do to perform.

So as I notice resolutions get made and ignored all around me, I consider  my simple objective. From this objective, everything I will do will follow. I keep moving forward.

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