“The best-laid schemes of mice and men often go awry.”
— Of Mice and Men
This quote from Robert Burns pretty much sums up my January. I started off like many others – with aspirations, resolutions and goals. Unlike many others I had taken the time to write them down, I had elaborated why these goals were special to me. I made space in my journal to write out an implementation intention, to commit to the power of a plan and the written word. This simple action made me 40 percent more likely to succeed.
I was aiming for near perfection. Because “if you shoot for the moon and miss, you still land among the stars.” Life had other plans for how I would start my year, but my journal was there to help me fight back.
New Years day, LITERALLY DAY ONE, I woke up sick. I don’t really drink anymore and had a grand total of one glass of champagne the night before so this is no hangover. I got the flu or cold or something that proceeded to keep me in bed hacking away and coughing for six days.
Now, I don’t know about you, but when I get sick it’s usually a no holds barred, someone gonna die, “are your affairs in order?” situation. This was just like that. I missed my first workout, then second workout, then I missed my weekend bike ride. Just like that, there went my goal of having a solid year of triathlon workouts and not missing a week. Even though that goal might have been a bit of a moon shot, I certainly thought I would get through WEEK ONE intact. Not to mention, as a new father my weekend bike ride is with a couple buddies and is my only social time every week. Which was another goal…shattered.
At this point I’m feeling low, I mean REAL low, so I start to feel better and what do I do? I dive into the leftover candy from Halloween… My 3rd goal for the year, no refined sugar for 6 days a week…BLOWN! Queue dramatic montage of guy eating cake, ice cream and anything with sugar in it to bury his “lack of workout and friends despair” in a mountain of sugar.
We’ve now made it to January 10th. I’ve been healthy for only four days so far this month, gotten in a couple of half-hearted runs in, but no bike rides or no swim workouts. I do triathlons so those are a standard weekly goal, also shot. Then… I get in a good solid 10k and I’m feeling good. My stress starts to dissipate, I say things in my journal like, “The past is just that, the past. Don’t stress about it, just take each day as it comes and do better today. Not tomorrow, just today.” That is a direct excerpt by the way. I’m still not firing on all eight cylinders but I’m making progress. Then, I get my Saturday bike ride in (60 miles) and I’m feeling FANTASTIC. Building momentum, I got this, the year will be salvaged.
It’s important for me to note at this point that there are a couple of things that I do every day, even if I’m “dying”. I meditate and journal twice a day. During my sick days my journaling is often “Sick today, just survive” or “Still fu**$ng sick”. Those are actual entries, in their entirety, but I keep those commitments to myself and thank goodness I do because they allow me to keep going. They give me the space to self-coach myself through whatever is crushing me.
Back to the month… I’m making progress for a week, then on January 14th, 2020 (a date which will live in infamy) I get sick AGAIN! This time it’s stomach related. I’ll not go into details but let’s just say I started having WAY too much in common with my 7-month-old son who still wears diapers…you get the idea. It was bad, like I’m gonna need to go shower for hours because I thought I had this part of my life under control and then this sickness destroyed any semblance of my dignity, bad. This new illness, which the doctors say “is just the stomach flu” takes me out for another six days!! Now it’s January 20th and I have spent a whopping eight days healthy. OY!
This was not what I hoped for in this new shiny year, this kickoff to the “Roaring Twenties” but alas “The best-laid schemes…” I’m not bitter, nope, just going to take each day as it comes, although I have decided that January is for suckers and sickness. The real pro’s kick off the new year in February.
All this rambling is to say one real thing… The actual secret to moving forward, even when you spend half your January ill – write it down. Keep a journal, self-talk and coach your way through it. Just keep doing the small things. For me, it’s journaling and meditation. I can be sick and keep those going. The best part is as soon as I start to recover, my daily journaling will help me realize that “Hey this is life, you’re going to get sick, just put on your big kid pants, lace up those running shoes and hit the road like there’s no tomorrow. Because tomorrow could suck! That’s why they call it the present, today is a gift, don’t waste it.”
An incredible, often overlooked benefit of journaling lies in being able to psych yourself up, and correct course when all else fails, every day.
Let me know some of your January nightmares, I know I can’t be alone! Follow @habitbetter for inspirations and journal prompts to get you back in the saddle. Good luck with the rest of the year and remember February is for winners, show up for yourself.