Monday, January 2, 2012

2012: It Ain't Just About Running

I'm not usually one for New Year's Resolutions. I've always wondered why flipping the calendar has such importance to have many of us re-evaluating how we've been living our lives. Why does it prompt us to look at our weaknesses? It's not that I don't like resolutions - or as I prefer to think of them - just plain ol' goals. I do.

In fact, I thrive on them. I'm constantly thinking of new goals and ways to be better - at work, at running, at whatever. When it comes to running and riding, I use the new year to set out my goals for the upcoming year. They're not the kind of resolutions you make and forget about in a few weeks. I know at any given moment what my goals are and how I'm measuring up for the year.

Yes, I'm very goal-driven, at least when it comes to running and cycling. But what about the rest of my life? Several years ago, I made a very conscious effort to change my life - to help get me to where (and who) I wanted to be in life. And I've been very successful at that.

I'm happier and healthier than I've ever been. I have confidence, a strong career and a great guy to spend my life with. I have a wonderful and growing group of friends and great relationships with my family.

I don't think it's a coincidence that running (and now cycling) has played such an important part of this process. I'm not just "lucky" - like I said, there was a conscious effort to get to the place where I am, and it wasn't always an easy road. But now that I'm "there," what do I do?

This year, for the first time in ... well, maybe ever... I've been thinking of some personal goals that don't have anything to do with running or riding. I admit, it's been kind of difficult to pinpoint personal goals - partly because I feel really good and happy about how my life is and partly because, well, there's lots on my list.

How can those those statements co-exist? If I didn't change anything in my life, I'd be perfectly happy. But I also know with a little bit of work (and maybe even just some awareness of things that are already good), it can be even better.

I'm a big believer that we make our own happiness. At that's just what I intend to keep doing.

I've had a few goals floating around in my head for the past several weeks. I had the opportunity to take a nice run this afternoon by myself - which made for the perfect opportunity to refine my goals. They seemed to fall into a few main categories:

HEALTH. I have a pretty good handle on health compared to most people, but I'm far from perfect. I think the healthier I get, the healthier I want to become. In 2012, I will be more aware what I eat and how much I eat. And resolutions wouldn't be complete without a pledge to lose those notorious 10 pounds (to get me back to be pre-Boston Marathon weight). My re-dedication to running and riding will surely help this. I will also explore more things like strength training, yoga, Pilates, spin classes and other things to keep things interesting.

FINANCES. This is probably the biggest (and maybe only) way my "past life" affects my current life. That needs to change. I've managed to move on from everything from the negative, but still have some financial black eyes as a reminder that I'm not done yet. And, unfortunately, in some ways it keeps me from fully moving forward. In 2012, I will cut my debt in half, improve my credit score and be more aware of a personal budget.

RELATIONSHIPS. I feel really good about all of the relationships in my life, and in 2012 want to continue fostering meaningful friendships and bringing new people into my life. I want to value time with my family and Jeff's family. I want to spend time with Jeff doing things that we love doing together, and continue to grow and build our relationship in a positive way full of positive things, open communication, fun and love.

GIVING BACK. I realize that I have a pretty darn good life, and I don't want to forget that. In 2012, I will volunteer regularly in some way. I'm not sure yet what this will look like - a soup kitchen, Kids Cafe, Upreach Therapeutic Riding Center, Boys and Girls Club, Big Brothers Big Sisters. There are plenty of options. I want to find something that is both meaningful to me and makes a difference in someone's life.

CAREER. When thinking about the coming year, I think a lot about striving for balance. I don't want a life that so work-centered that I forget about all of the other good things. I truly love my job and all of the opportunities that come with it. But it's one of those non-stop kind of jobs - one in which I could work late every night or fill up every evening or weekend with some sort of commitment. It's easy to fall into the pitfalls of living in a constantly connected world. In 2012, I will work hard and work smart - but not be afraid to step away and unplug when I need to. Of course, I have a separate list of "work goals," specific to events and making budget numbers and helping others. Those are better left at the office, but rest assured there will be a lot of focus there, too. For this personal list, it's best to focus on the need to balance this hard work with everything else in my life.

TIME. I'll also find the time (and make time) to continue to do the things I love - things like walk with the dogs in the woods, hike, camp, run, bike and write. Who knows, maybe I'll even find some new things.

Perhaps most importantly, in 2012, I will remember not to be too hard on myself. It's okay to take a day off (from work or running or riding), to sleep in, to gain a few pounds or not to meet all of the expectations I put on myself. It's okay if I don't do everything on this list. The important thing is to revisit this post every once in a while and think about the things that are important to me.

Happy New Year!

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