Imagine a guy who wants to dress better in the New Year. He’s not happy with his style or his default to oversized jeans and t-shirts. He can’t seem to get out of his sartorial rut even though it makes him feel miserable. He looks at other guys out on the street and says to himself, “why can’t I put something like that together?”
“2016 is going to be my year,” he says. “Starting January 1st,” I’m going to dress better. I’m going to buy new clothes, get a haircut, and I’m going to look like a grown man instead of a middle school child when I go out.”
January 1st rolls around and he goes shopping. He’s not afraid of investing a little money in his new endeavor, but he doesn’t really know where or how to start. He goes to his old standby stores that carry the clothes in which he’s most comfortable. Though he spends a lot of money and it feels good in the moment—he’s finally doing something about the style that’s been bothering him for some time—when he gets home the aura wears off just a little. He branched out a little with his purchases, but it still looks like more of the same.
The next day he tries on some of his new clothes, but he’s a little surprised to see that not much has changed. The jeans don’t quite fit right. He’s no more stylish really than he was last year. Within a week or so he’s right back to his old t-shirts and jeans. Worse, he’s beating himself up for “failing” at yet another New Year’s resolution.
Where did he go wrong?
1.) He understood that he didn’t like the way he dressed, but he made the wrong diagnosis. The most stylish people I know don’t just dress well, but also their homes are well-planned, their taste in books and movies is interesting, and they are meticulous about their grooming. In other words, style is a lifestyle, and it’s not a lifestyle that can be bought because it’s primarily about paying attention to details. (We’ve all met people with plenty of money but very little taste.)
2.) He didn’t seek help. Our straw man character thought there would be something different about 2016 because the six replaced a five on the calendar. But while he may have wanted to be more stylish, the difference between December and January was negligible because he didn’t make it a point to take in new information. If you’re trying to change your lifestyle, you need help. That can be in the form of an expert friend willing to help, a paid expert, or significant time learning online. Our straw man might have spent some time perusing Instagram accounts for the BK Circus and Street Etiquette for ideas, or he might have subscribed to GQ, Esquire or an interesting art magazine. But he just waited for January 1st to come around and ended up right where he started.
3.) He didn’t use the tools he already had at his disposal. Most of us are good at something, but fewer of us think about what makes us good at whatever thing that happens to be. The process of living a healthy lifestyle can be broken into digestible chunks just like any other endeavor. You have to troubleshoot, you have to be realistic, and you have to be clear-minded.
Don’t Make Resolutions, Refine Processes
It’s fashionable now in fitness circles to make fun of New Year’s resolutions, and I’ve definitely been critical of the whole idea that one can “jumpstart” fitness with longterm success. But that’s almost beside the point. The fact is, a lot of people are thinking right now about how they would like to be different/better/more of/less of in the New Year. If you fall into that category, then I encourage you to identify an area of your life in which you are proficient and learn from that. Chances are you already know how to troubleshoot, you already know how to learn, and you already know how to break things down into processes. All you have to do now is apply those things to your health and wellness.
It is my sincere hope that you can learn to live well in 2016, that you can learn to love your body, and that you can learn to slow down a little and pay more attention to the people all around you. Don’t think about losing weight or getting lean. Think about living. Learn to live.
As for me? Well, that straw man and I have a little something in common…