New Year's Resolutions Don't Work. Here's What Does...
By Di Westaway | Chief Adventure Chick and Founder of Wild Women On Top
I’ve done a crap job of New Year resolutions in the past. By February I’ve pretty much forgotten about them. Which is just as well because I usually wish for a smarter, fitter, stronger, happier me after a few too many drinks.
Alas, my New Year wishes have never come true.
That’s not to say I haven’t, at various thrilling stages of my life, felt smarter, fitter, slimmer or happier. But it wasn’t the promise of a new year that motivated me.
Research shows that a whopping 92% of New Year’s resolutions fail. Some experts say it’s because we set the bar too high. Some say we set it too low. I think it’s because our resolutions are often spontaneous alcohol-fuelled dreams that come without instructions. So perhaps we should ditch them completely.
That’s not to say we shouldn’t reflect on the past year and make wild plans for the new year. It’s a great time to review, reset, rejuvenate and decide what you should change to lead a healthier, happier life. It’s an opportunity to contemplate that magic something that makes you feel joyful, connected, fulfilled and exhilarated.
For me, that magic something is adventure.
According to the Cambridge Dictionary adventure can be defined as “an unusual, exciting, and possibly dangerous activity, such as a trip or experience, or the excitement produced by such an activity.” I’ve discovered that when I commit to an adventure, I begin a journey towards better health, fitness and happiness.
The thrill of adventure is deeply embedded in our in our DNA and incredibly, when we act on it, we experience exhilaration on a grand scale. And when we do it with loved ones, we feel an even greater level of elation.
Adventure gives us a purpose which motivates us all to embrace new habits. Any kind of adventure in nature will do the trick, but the bigger and scarier, the better.
It’s not just the adventure that motivates us. It’s the connections, the people, the love.
This year, I’ll be 61. By all accounts, this should make me glum. But the thought of being a sexagenarian is one of the most inspiring milestones I’ve ever faced. I feel like I’ve got one last chance to really make a real difference. But to do that, I need to be a smarter, fitter, stronger, happier me.
So, I’ve started dreaming. My dream - COVID-permitting - is to climb The Matterhorn, a stunning mountain in the Swiss Alps. This already scares me silly, but it also gives me an awesome excuse to play with my gorgeous climbing buddies and get smarter, fitter, stronger and happier.
It will motivate me to move my body every day, to stay injury free while hiking, biking, climbing, swimming and stretching. It will force me to prioritise my health and fitness even when the weather is crap, I feel like shit and life threatens to get in the way.
It will also scare me, which is key. Unless I’m scared, I won’t truly commit to arduous training and mental toughness tests. Why else would I do ten sets of stairs with a pack before breakfast on a Sunday morning, or drag myself out of bed at dawn on cold winter’s morning to shuffle along the sand, plunge into freezing water or resist eating an entire tub of gelato in one sitting?
It takes a whole lot more than raising your glass of bubbles at midnight on 31st December to change habits. If you really want to get healthier and happier, try a challenging adventure to push you outside your comfort zone where most magic happens. As CS Lewis famously said, “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” A challenging adventure does just that.
If you want to change your life and find a happy new you in 2021, try this:
January 1: Find a challenging adventure that ignites your wanderlust
Settle on your dream wild adventure now. Be brave. Go for something that seems ridiculously OVER THE TOP. Something that scares you every time you think about it. Something that will take your breath away, both physically and mentally. It might be trekking the Jatbula trail, kayaking with whales or hiking the 60km Coastrek.
January 2: Invite your friends and family to join you
It’s much more fun doing it with goal buddies and you’ll be amazed at how many people will want to join you. Everybody wants to be healthier and happier. Just keep asking until you find somebody who wants the same thing as you. If you can’t find a buddy, jump into our Wild Women Community on Facebook and find someone on there who is interested. If you still can’t find anyone, go by yourself. You’ll meet people on the journey.
January 3: Commit to the goal
That means paying a deposit, purchasing airfares (if required) and blocking the dates in the diary. Dump the excuses. Tell your friends and family this is happening and it’s good for you and them. It’s guaranteed to make you happier and healthier than you’ve ever been. Just do it. You’ll be so glad you did.
January 4: Make a plan
Start training. Write your training dates in your diary. You’ll need to do something towards your wanderlust adventure EVERY day. It doesn’t have to be massive. This might be eating more veggies, going for a hike, getting to bed earlier, doing yoga, cooking some nutritious meals, doing a weekend mini adventure or taking a buddy or kid for a bike ride.
January 5 onwards: Follow the plan
Know that you’ll get it wrong sometimes but with a visual record of achievement, not only will your family help encourage you but you’ll also be more inclined to do it. Remember, frequency is more important than intensity. So, don’t worry about HIIT, running or doing things that hurt. Just start by doing the things you love at a low intensity regularly and you’ll be amazed how much you improve. You’ll start to feel fabulous in no time.
We’d love to hear about your 2021 goals. Come into our Wild Women Community group and tell us what adventures you’ve got planned for this year!