January 1st is a terrible day on which to change your life.
Most of the traditional New Year's Resolutions are doomed by one simple fact: New Year's Day is in the dead of winter. When you wake up, it's 30 degrees outside, and especially if you're not used to it, the last thing you want to do is go outside and sweat. It's a much better idea to slip farther under your covers before having a nice hot cup of that caffeine you weren't going to drink anymore. And you'd eat healthier, but you've really got to get rid of those few remaining holiday leftovers (and cookies).
You could go outside and play football, but it's just as fun to sit in the bar and watch others do so, and then you don't have to thaw out your fingers later. Really, it's only the soon-to-be-former smokers that get any benefit from the weather, because who really wants to step outside in 5-degree winds? But they've got another problem: Season Affective Disorder. The lack of sunshine is depressing, and combined with withdrawal symptoms from anything, it doesn't make for an optimistic beginning to the year.
Given all of this, why are New Year's Resolutions so popular? Gyms are packed this time of year, and 90% of the available Groupons have something to do with fitness or healthy food. Everyone views the start of a brand new year as meaning a lot more than screwing up the date on the next few checks they'll write. A new year means hope, possibility, and the future.
I was discussing this with my new Saturday morning running buddy. At a Christmas party, a friend and I discussed running, and he mentioned that he'd like to get back into it. We decided to meet up at Town Lake on Saturday mornings, starting today. It was great to have someone with whom I could talk about the odd little things that go through my brain while out on the road, and we talked about what we were both trying to do differently this year. He agreed that it was strange to put so much stock in the arbitrary assignment of a calendar date by someone centuries ago, and I realized that this was my real issue. January 1st is nothing more than a number on a calendar. To succeed, you need to pick a date that means something personally. I suggest you pick your birthday.
I've decided that a better choice will be New Age Resolutions. For those of us with winter birthdays, this may not do away with all the problems I mentioned before, but it does take care of one issue: it makes the moment more personal. You're not one of the fifteen people waiting in line for your ten minutes on the treadmill at the 24-hour gym anymore. You celebrate your birthday in style, have some cake, and go to bed. By the rules I established as a child, you don't actually age until you've had cake and gone to bed, so when you wake up the next morning, you're officially one year older.
And maybe your age won't be the only thing that's changed.
9.47 Miles (3.09 with partner, 6.38 alone)