Question: How do I avoid the New Year’s resolutions slump?
If there is one thing that this time of year is not short on, it is well-intentioned New Year’s Resolutions that feel like they are up a creek without a paddle.
The thought that you have an entire calendar year to devote to new habit forming and personal development helps individuals feel that they are more in control of the metrics of their progress. Having said that, athletes & coaches often fall into ruts of both the development of their resolutions (another name for goals) and understanding of how to make them a reality.
New Year’s Resolutions are just a fancy way of saying “new goals for this calendar year” but our goals (short- and long-term) can be better served if we see them in a bigger picture than just a calendar year. Let’s play this idea out in a scenario.
A home without a foundation
On January 1st of the year, you started building a new house. By late summer the primary build-out is done and now we get to customize floors, fixtures, and all the finishes. Unfortunately, what most of us do with our house (goals) somewhere along the construction path is taking a sledgehammer to the foundation of the house we finished in January. By December, we’ve damaged the foundation of our house so much that it’s less than habitable and nothing can but built upon it.
So what do we do? We tear it down and start a new foundation in January of the following year.
The build plan for athletes
Rather than tearing down and having to rebuild from the foundation every year, the goal for an athlete’s New Year’s resolutions should be that with each subsequent year there are fewer and less substantial habits to change. In keeping with the home building analogy, this should allow you to add on, modify, and improve upon something, but not tear it down because you spent the proper time building it. Build up your year so that you won’t have to significantly rework or change much in the years to follow. Refine, progress, learn, and apply so that each year is better, not just the first quarter of each year.
The Coach’s role
By now you know that athletes are extremely motivated in the New Year. You will get people who want to drastically change nutrition, start a vastly new training regiment, pivot change their career path, go back to school, start school again, etc… They come to you willing to listen and have you help guide them. Do not undermine their motivation by putting blockades up. It doesn’t matter what you think of their motivation, what matters is that you meet them where they are at and help them develop with consistency and accountability. While they may adjust their focus areas, what you want to maintain is their trust in your guidance and belief in their capability. Unfortunately, I’ve been seeing a lot of sarcastic “Here comes the New Year, New Me” posts and misguided attempts at helping athletes by telling them that New Years Resolutions are bullsh*t.
Working together, you can build out benchmarks and action items to support the progress of those benchmarks, and schedule accountability. Questions to keep top of mind are “what is going to truly separate your 2022 from all the years in the past?” “Is that change going to last beyond January 1st going into next year?”
I hope so because everyone has a profound right to realize their potential.