Common Eider male take off, bird is flying over the blue sea in Kristiansand, Norway

It’s Quitter’s Day (10 questions to ask yourself before you regroup)

Yes, there is a Quitter’s Day. It falls on a day in January when vast numbers of humans are abandoning their New Year’s resolutions.

In 2019, the fitness platform, Strava, did some research looking at 800 million activities recorded on their fitness app. They noted that January 19 marked the day most people returned to pre-holiday life.

Since then, the date has bounced around a bit, with one site claiming the second Friday in January as International Quitter’s Day.

Whether you do New Year’s resolutions or not, you’ve no doubt set goals, named dreams, or outlined plans to achieve something new. And, inevitably, there have been those times when you’ve quit.

So, what do you do when you realize you’ve quit?

Feel cynical and give up? Consider what’s realistic and adapt your goals? Shrug your shoulders and move on with life as you know it? Assume this isn’t the right time and wait for later? Regroup and try again?

If you are contemplating dusting yourself off and starting over again, here are a few Inside Out questions you may want to consider: (I will be using my goal of getting more exercise as an illustration.)

#1 What is your goal (restate your resolution).

Mine: “I want to exercise for 30 minutes every single day this year.”

This is what I was thinking in the days leading up to January 1. I really knew better. The idea of keeping something going to maintain a streak does not fuel my internal motivation much anymore. And when you break the streak, exceptions have a way of becoming the rule very quickly. Which happened on January 3 for me!

My back up plan was 6 days a week. Then 5 days. And, well, don’t the experts say a minimum of 3 days of intense cardio is good enough?

Now, I’m just starting over–which is why I’m writing this post! This time, however, I’m going to work from the inside out. Next question:

#2 Why did you choose this goal?

Because I’m tired of being tired. I don’t feel strong anymore. I get slightly winded if I run up the stairs with the laundry. I want my sleep to be more efficient. I want my immune system to be stronger. I want to feel happier, less anxious, and sharper mentally.

#3 What would achieving this goal do for you?

I’d have fewer aches and pains. I’d get better sleep. I’d be happier, healthier and wiser. I suppose I would feel like I was reaching a life long dream. My risk of breast cancer would be significantly reduced.

I believe feeling physically would spill over into other areas of my life.

#4 What is your history with this goal?

When I was 10 years old, I started running around the perimeter of our neighborhood (probably a couple of miles). I’m not sure how that started, but I did that for months and was elated when I could finally make it without stopping. I don’t remember when or why I stopped.

I remember imagining myself being that grandma that could play sports.

The yo-yo comes to mind. There have been months when I nailed it–and felt so good. After my preshies were born, I didn’t do much exercise at all for several years. And for the past couple of decades, it’s been sporadic: marathon (anyone can do this if you’re allowed to walk), three half marathons, and the random 5k breaking up the monotony of nothing besides an occasional walk.

#5 What must be done to achieve this goal?

Want it badly enough. Maybe do it in the morning before other emergency things like making lunch.

#6 Do you like doing what it takes to achieve this goal? Dislike it? Hate it? Feel ambivalent about it?

Hmmm. I really like the feeling of exercising. Not sure why I put it off. I love the feeling of being strong and flexible.

I am put off, though, by the inconvenience of interrupting my day to change and exercise when I’m working on something else.

#7 What helps you do what it takes to reach this goal and what keeps you from doing those things?

It’s not a part of my routine, so everything else on my list gets done first. It takes extra energy to go out of my comfort zone and I gravitate towards getting something else done that feels more urgent. I forget that this is something I really want. (Can’t think of anything that helps)

#8 Who inspires you to achieve this goal?

My beloved knows about my goal and encourages me. Last year, he showed me a video someone shared on FB of Johanna Quaas, the 90 year-old gymnast, doing a routine. “I want to be fit like that when I’m old,” I said (forgetting that “old” is much closer than it used to be).

I’d forgotten about that. I looked her up just now and also learned about Ernestine Shepherd, who holds the Guinness World Record for oldest performing female body builder. Super strong and fit at 80 years old, she left status quo and started working out when she was my age (you’ll just have to look that up if you’re curious!).

Then I stumbled on Tao Porchon-Lynch,who won ballroom dance competitions, taught Yoga, and defied gravity with her strength, right up to age 101.

As a part-time physical therapist in long term care, I have seen the benefits of being strong and fit later in life. These women inspire me to move, to be strong, to treat my body well. They remind me that being healthy and strong is important to me.

#9 On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being top priority), how important is this goal to you?

Now that I’ve reflected on these questions, I’d have to say 9 or 10/10.

#10 What is your take away and what are you going to do next?

I picked an exercise goal because it’s one of those good intentions I have that never really gets accomplished–at least consistently. It was surprising to realize that exercising isn’t my real goal.

*My real goal isn’t to exercise–it’s to be strong, fit, healthy, and flexible–as long as I’m alive. That makes a difference when it comes to motivation.

My take-aways:

*I realized just how important this goal is to me.

*I noted that it’s easy to forget my goal because I can still move pretty easily and I have a a pile of other “to dos” in daily life that feel more urgent.

*I’ve decided to redefine my goal and take the time to break it down into measurable steps so that I can check in with my progress week by week. I will make a record and at the end of every week I will review these questions. I will give myself time to make this shift and will be patient as I form a new habit.

*I will find ways to encourage myself such as putting up pictures and quotes in places where I will remember to check in with what I really want.

And maybe there are some other goals I’ll have to officially release in order to attend to this one.

Quitting? Starting over? It’s OK to take the time to figure it out…

It’s never too late–

Alicia

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