This past weekend I attended the 14th annual YMCA-YWCA Connexion Fitness Conference for fitness professionals. It was a full day of seminars, workshops and networking with personal trainers, volunteers and fitness industry leaders. The keynote address was delivered by professor of Sport Psychology and author Terry Orlick. Terry talked about the keys to excellence, and how there are seven factors to achieving excellence in life: Commitment, Belief, Full Focus, Positive Images, Mental Readiness, Distraction Control and Constructive Evaluation. He combines these together as a wheel, in which each one plays an important role and cannot bring success by itself, but must be working in harmony with each of the other factors.
Terry then went on to discuss his own success in sport and life, specifically in how he goes running each morning. Every day he sets his alarm clock, prepares his shoes, socks and running gear beside the bed and when the alarm sounds, he prepares for his run. The run lasts for about an hour and he goes regardless of the weather. This may not sound like a very big deal, but we live in Ottawa, Canada; a city that is known for it’s extreme temperatures. This past winter was particularly brutal, hitting record lows of negative thirty Celsius (-22 Fahrenheit). Something that Dr. Orlick said about his commitment to running struck home for me:
“I make the decision to run before I look out the window.”
How many runners can relate to that? Or how many of us decide to run only if the weather meets our standard of comfort? I’m probably in the second camp more often than not. But what would happen if the things we committed to on a sunny, warm day were something we followed through on when the rain or snow began to fall?
If we committed to a healthy lifestyle before we picked up the chips at the grocery store.
If we committed to staying calm before our kids pushed all of our buttons at once.
If we committed to staying faithful before we faced tough times in our marriage.
It can be done. If we are willing to commit, right here, right now, to make a change and stick with it; regardless of the weather.
Look at your own life right now and choose one thing you want to change. Now write down two or three concrete things you can do today, and every day, to help you get there. Then tell someone, a friend or a spouse for example, to create some accountability in your commitment.
Then, the action has to follow the decision, or as Dr. Orlick says, make a “do-cision”. Some days will certainly be easier to follow through on your commitment, but every time you make a choice towards the life you want you make it easier for you to make the choice next time. And that is where it really counts, because it is when the storm hits that most of us struggle in staying committed.
Rarely do people fail on their resolutions because they felt stress-free, well supported or motivated. Rather, we fail when the motivation runs dry, or we can no longer see our goal clearly through the fog of a busy life. So make the choice today because whether the sun is shining in your life or the skies are grey, the weather may last only a day but the impact of our choices can affect the rest of our lives.