KEARNS — Affection for New Year’s resolutions may be directly proportional with how much one needs a fresh start.
Or, in my case, a deadline.
I wouldn’t say I’m a fan of New Year’s resolutions, but I’m not a critic either.
I have set more goals than I have reached. And I admit my failures have discouraged and deterred me from accomplishing many things that would have no doubt made my life more interesting — and, in many ways, better.
And yet, even in working toward those unattained goals (sometimes with a less than enviable work ethic), I was blessed with life-altering insights and life-enriching experiences.
Some would say those were the consolation prizes. You know, just me finding the silver lining of my big, fat failure.
Others suggest it’s not actually the summit that’s most important. Instead, it’s the trek to the top of the mountain that possesses the transformative power. It’s the trying that matters more than the accomplishment.
The reality is there is truth in both.
I didn’t set any resolutions, and I didn’t have plans to do anything significant on New Year’s Day. Then I ran into my friend and race director Jared Eborn at Wasatch Running, and somehow he convinced me to participate in his annual Revolution Run at the Utah Olympic Oval.
I had already planned an early morning hike in Millcreek with my friends, but I decided to do both. A vicious cold had me feeling physically lethargic and emotionally drained. But, as it turned out, laughing with good friends and chatting about the pros and cons and whys and why nots of resolutions turned out to be an amazing way to spend the first day of 2018.
Normally, I love to meet new people and tell their stories in my columns. Monday, I picked on old friends, some who’ve inspired me with their accomplishments over the years.
My team Red, White and Blue buddy, Andrew Pullens, said there is something about New Year's that offers forgiveness for past failures.
“It’s easier for me to have some kind of date whether it’s the first or Lent or something, right?” he said laughing as we ran laps for his first half marathon of the year. “It puts a mark on the calendar and says, ‘As of this date, I’m forgetting about how I failed in the past, and I’m going to start fresh.’ If you just hold onto your old failures, it just discourages you.”
Blu Robinson, founder of Addict II Athlete, said New Year’s is “kind of like a universal starting line.”
He said setting layers of goals keeps him from getting discouraged. So he might miss a couple of short-term goals, but he continues to work toward a long-term goal. In his case, he was kicking off the training for his first 100-mile race, which he hopes to run on Jan. 1, 2019.
John Bozung is a layered goal guy, but New Years doesn’t necessarily have any significance for him. His resolution hasn’t changed for 22 years.
“My resolution is to keep my monthly string of marathons going,” he said of the streak, which is currently at 272 consecutive months of at least one marathon. “It will be 23 years in April. That’s what keeps me going every month. There is a method to my madness.”
Jed Jensen prefers to start his goals long before New Year's Day.
“It’s better to start a resolution in the middle of the year, and then work towards it,” he said. “Then, I’m better off at the beginning of the year being able to continue on with it.”
He started the Keto diet two months ago, and only feels more resolve with the changing of the year.
“It’s just a day off that I can go run,” he said smiling.
Rob Bailey and Josher Hansen said their view of resolutions has changed as they’ve become more committed runners.
“I used to be very specific in my yearly goals,” Hansen said. “Over the years, my long-term goals haven’t changed, so when it comes to New Year's, I focus and tweak my approach, but I don’t necessarily make new goals or grand resolutions.”
He said he does like new experiences, so he always adds to his routine.
He understands the desire to start anew with the calendar changes.
“I think there is an allure to New Year's,” Hansen said. “But I also think there is a power to that. I use the last couple of months of the year to kind of review, look forward and plan. For me, it’s more planning what I’m going to do in the upcoming year. I love (New Year's). I find it very motivating.”
Bailey likes very specific goals, and he also makes them public. Sometimes friends join him, sometimes they cheer him on from afar.
“I want accountability,” he said rattling off his goals for 2018, which include a two-hour half marathon and 4:30 full marathon. “It’s so I have something to shoot for.” Most of those running and walking at the Oval Monday said they’ve learned to see failures as a necessary component to their growth.
“I have in the past,” Bailey said of letting failure bother him. “But not anymore because I realized nothing ventured, nothing gained. When I get a little bit discouraged, I realize I’ve come a long way. I like setting goals for myself.”
Eborn said that when Extra Mile Racing decided to create an event on New Year’s Day, they had individual circumstances in mind.
“We thought it would be a potentially cool idea to just let people run as many laps as they wanted to,” he said. “We’d give them a time window and they could go as far or as short as they wanted.”
The result has been a starting line for some and just another day of training for others.
“It’s a kickoff to everybody’s fitness goal,” he said. “We’ll have people who will walk a 5K and kind of break down in tears because it’s the farthest they’ve gone. And then we have people who run 35 miles and that’s just a training run because they’re 100-mile freaks.”
The reality is New Year's Day, just like any other day, can be a significant moment of change, or it can just be another missed opportunity. There is nothing magical about it, other than it’s a tradition to set goals that might bring out the best in us.
The bad news is that many of us will fall short of the goals we set — whether we lock them in on Jan. 1 or another date.
The good news is that doesn’t have to be a negative.
Attempting to change, to try new things, or to be better version of you will always alter your life. Obviously the length and commitment of the attempt make a difference. But one day of experiencing something challenging or magical gives us more than 365 days of continuing with the comfortable, easy and known.
So here’s to success in the New Year, and also to all of our inevitable failures!