I like the New Year because of its reminder to reflect, take stock, and get excited for the future. And, I keep getting drawn back to this photo. This is what I want: genuine smiles, fresh air, long walks. I’m tired of forever feeling out of place, tired of hesitating and agonizing over every little decision. I’m tired - and this is a big one for me - of fighting emotion and weakness and evolution. I’ve fought everything that I thought was going to somehow change me, challenged any threat to my perceived strengths, and held fast against relaxing into comfort.
This picture shows a version of me rarely seen, or felt, in the past. Relaxed, okay with what the moment brings, joyful, in love. So, rather than focusing on the usual New Years resolutions, I’m strategizing how to bring a playful-calm to everyday life. Less stimulus, more nature; less distraction, more engagement. Live small, play big.
First off, I’m trying to showcase my enthusiasm for a move to the mountains next month - without holding back or tempering my excitement as I tend to do. I can’t wait to downsize even more so we can live with greater access to trails and dirt roads and rivers. I can’t wait to go back to living (mostly) car-free in a community that shares the same passion for outdoor pursuits. I can’t wait to share all this in a (very) tiny space with my husband who shares my eagerness for quiet neighborhood walks and steep hikes out our door.
I still want to do hard things. But maybe not to prove how hard I am. Instead, maybe the challenges I will set before me can help me embrace those things that I can not change while strengthening my personal values. Am I able to accept that perhaps my motivations and goals are evolving, and that is okay? Can I rest when the weather is bad? Can I harness my athletic discipline to nourish other parts of myself?
Besides the excitement for miles of summer adventure in the mountains, I find myself oddly craving cozy winter snow days filled with books and crockpot creations. So the trick is balancing my lingering need for physical challenge and sweat with an acceptance of transition. Hard things now might be bundling up to ride to get groceries in 30 degrees, instead of jumping in the car. Hard things might be choosing a morning of nourishing yoga movement instead of forcing myself out the door for slippery, icy runs just to tally up miles. Hard things will definitely include weekend bikepack trips through unfamiliar landscape and just rolling with our inevitable wrong turns. I hope I can continue to remember that toughness can mean simply following that faint voice advising me to slow down, stop fighting, and enjoy it all. — Susan
What we're reading
Mark Mason on Why Goals Are Overrated (And What to Do Instead)
Takeaway → According to Mark, there are two mindsets to building wealth, those that view money as something to spend, versus something to be invested. Similarly with goals versus habits, most view goals as the end-point or the spending, wile habits would be an investment. A goal might be to write a book, while the habit being to develop a specific daily writing practice.
People tend to rely too much on self-discipline and eschew forming useful habits. People tend to bite off more than they can chew, so to speak, setting goals that are far above their ability or knowledge level and then becoming frustrated when they make little to no progress towards them.
Goals are a one-time bargain. They are the spending mindset. “I will spend X amount of energy to receive Y reward.” Habits are an investing mindset. Habits require one to invest one’s efforts for a little while and then take the rewards of that effort and re-invest them in a greater effort to form even better habits.
On specific habits, Mark has six fundamental daily habit suggestions, believing they give you the best long-term return on the time invested in developing the habit. These are Exercise, Cooking, Meditation, Reading, Writing, Socializing (Building relationships).
New Research Reveals 8 Secrets That Will Make Your New Year’s Resolutions Succeed
Takeaway → Almost 9 of 10 people fail to achieve their New Year’s resolutions according to Richard Wiseman, a psychology professor at University of Hertfordshire. His advice, just focus on one goal. That's it. Don't create a resolutions list, focus your energy on building one singular goal/habit.
Manipulate your environment so as to make what you should do easy and what you shouldn’t do hard. This puts your impulsiveness at odds with your laziness.
Also, be realistic and make a specific plan.
The Psychology of Why Excessive Goal-Setting Limits Our Happiness and Success
Takeaway → While the previous article recommends creating a well thought-out plan to accomplishing one's goal, journalist Oliver Burkeman warns of the perils of being too rigid in one's pursuit. Flexibility and open-mindedness often lead to greater success.
“The human foot is a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art.” Leonardo da Vinci
With over 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments, your feet deserve some love and respect. Not only can the dreaded plantar fasciitis make daily life miserable, but foot tension or misalignment can also have effects all the way up the anatomical chain causing knee, hip or back issues. Broken Toe Pose is a simple way to help rejuvenate those well worked appendages and restore some flexibility. Don’t let the name, Broken Toe, scare you off.
Broken Toe Pose - start kneeling and curl your toes under; see if you can get the bottom of all 10 toes touching the ground. you should feel a strong stretch through the arch. If it’s too much feel free to lean forward and rest as much weight as needed on your hands. Try staying for a minute - or as long as tolerable. You might want to follow it up by sitting on your knees with the tops of your feet pressed into the floor to work the top of the foot and your ankle.
Quote to ponder
Perfection of character is this: to live each day as if it were your last, without frenzy, without apathy, without pretense. — Marcus Aurelius