Why I believe in New Year’s Resolutions (and a little about my 2013 Midnight Madness run)

wpid-20131231_231253.jpg Just before Stephanie, Zander, and I headed up north of the Midnight Madness 3 mile run, I took my two youngest children for a short jog around the block. There were several families out in front of their homes with fire pits going while enjoying time together as they counted down the last few hours of the year.

It was then that I wished I wasn’t heading to a race for the night. I wanted to spend the time with family. I wanted to count down the seconds, kiss my wife, fling the doors open, and yell “OUT WITH THE OLD AND IN WITH THE NEW!” Instead, we got in the car and headed to the race.

Of course, it wasn’t dreadful at all – I did want to run this race. I wanted to put a running “cap” on the 2013 year and taking my wife and oldest son with me was a great family way to do that.

As we drove the 45 min drive to the race, I thought about the year. I changed jobs this year. I gained and lost weight this year.  I bought three saltwater fish tanks this year. My wife’s younger brother and his wife and kids moved in with us this year.

A lot of things happened this year but as I drove to the race, I couldn’t stop my mind from repeating over and over the words from John Lennon’s ballot:

So this is Christmas
And what have you done?
Another year over
And a new one just begun

And what have I done? To be honest, I feel like this year ends in a big ol’ DNF (that’s Did Not Finish for you non-runners). When I told my wife that, she asked what I felt was left undone. I found myself [briefly] without words…

We ran the race. My first mile was too fast, tying my prior personal record for the mile at 9:17 (also set the first mile of this race, 3 years prior). I beat my prior Midnight Madness run by 2 mins. I came in 4th in my age division (out of 7) and 168th overall (322 runners). The results are great, despite being bothered that I ran the first mile undisciplined. But the conversation in the car before the race lingered over me.

Why was I having trouble articulating that sense of emptiness as the last hours of 2013 tick away? There was no goal I had failed. No attempted feat left unaccomplished. But then it hit me. There was no goal; no feat attempted! I felt an empty year slipping away with little or no meaningful attempts to live on purpose. 2013 didn’t end with a DNF – it was a Did Not TRY.

Once at work over a decade ago, I was being written up for shipping equipment to the wrong location for the second time. It was a simple mistake where I had transposed the location ID (something like location 1860 vs 1680), but because it was the second time, discipline was required. I remember being very upset that I had failed and that I was “in trouble” when my boss said to me something like:

“Dale, your coworkers never make this mistake… but its because they aren’t working. Its hard to screw up doing nothing. Don’t be afraid to fail – just stop making the same mistakes.”

We need big goals in life. I want to reach for things outside of an autopilot existence because it engages me. If I lose that, I’ll find myself at the end of a string of did-not-try years that blur into a wasted life and the final “Did Not Finish” where I actually don’t make it to Dec 31st. With this revelation, I can articulate the importance of New Year’s Resolutions.

I don’t mean those generic “lose weight, reduce debt, peace in the middle east” goals you talk about every January and quickly forget about by February. I mean real measurable goals that you work to accomplish and at the end of the year you can measure your efforts, failures, and successes.

While this is in no way a complete list, I have started my own list of goals for 2014:

  1. Run 100 miles in a single calendar week
  2. Run at least one half marathon in each quarter of 2014
  3. Read at least 12 books about health and welness
  4. Run 6 consecutive sub-ten min miles in a single run
  5. Run a sub-30 min 5k

How about you? Do you believe in New Year’s Resolutions? Are you satisfied with your 2013? What goals have you set for yourself in 2014?

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