New Year Philosophies

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, goals & resolutions are a hot topic as each year begins.  As I reflect on 2013, I know I spent the year “getting back” into many things, including running and academia.  The year was pretty hectic for me, and culminated in an emotional whirlwind of a holiday season during which I witnessed the beauty and chaos of the gathering of my and my husbands’ large families, the joy of new marriages, new life being born, and the loss of family members and friends as they passed out of this world.

My husband often quotes Ovid: “Dripping water hollows out stone, not through force but through persistence.” This year, my resolutions  take the form of 5 New Year ‘Philosophies’ that stem from this theme.

Water through Rock, Port Alberni, British Columbia
Water through Rock, Port Alberni, British Columbia

Number 1: Prioritize where I put my energy and to focus the finite amount of energy I have on the activities and projects I define as important, spending less time and energy on frivolous or distracting activities or worries. Among my “important” goals for 2014 are: making serious progress on my dissertation (publishing those journal articles!), working on solid base of running fitness and core strength, and gaining an Olympic Trials marathon qualifying time. Prioritizing takes guts, planning, and commitment; however, once the decision to work toward a goal is made, smaller day-to-day decisions pertaining to those priorities become easy as all actions are made with the intent of accomplishing the goal.

Secondly, my goal is to regularly reflect on both progress made and the path forward.

Admiring the scenery on the journey of life. Photo by Brent Hall.
Taking time to reflect. Photo by Brent Hall.

Runners often are obsessed with goals (myself included!), and believe me, goals can be very important as motivators. I spend so much time looking forward that I often fail to do is to pause and look back to assess what has been accomplished already.  This year, I aim to make the time to look back, measure progress by how far I have come, and to celebrate that progress.  Large or small, it is worth acknowledging a week of getting in all planned workouts, hitting a mileage goal, or overcoming a mental barrier. With regular reflection, small inbalances in training load, nutrition, recovery, etc. can be rapidly identified and remedied before they cripple improvement.

Number 3: utilize my [human] resources. In the running world, this means connecting further with the Dukes Track Club, the local elite running group, arranging to meet with fellow runners on hard workout days or when I know I will be tired and need a buddy to help get me out on the trail. Academically, that means participating more in my research group, and connecting with other academics who have children and who might have advice for navigating the weird and wild world of academia+family.

Number 4: Write positivity into my life.

Optimism: Good anytime, anywhere.
Optimism: Good anytime, anywhere.

So often, it is easy for me to clearly see what is not getting done, what is going wrong (according to me), what other people are doing better than I am, and so on.  Concentrating on the negative aspects of life distracts me from my goals, redirecting my mind from being focused and energized and leads me to the unpleasant land of petty grudges, small annoyances, and poor decisions. Just as it takes energy to maintain a positive attitude, I believe it also takes energy to support negativity; this year I will be deliberately choosing to spend my precious time and energy on maintaining and growing a positive outlook – steering clear of the addictive realm of negativity as best I can.

Almost to the top of El Diente Peak, CO.
All smiles with my best friend at (nearly) 14,000′.

Lastly, my goal is to remember that I am a human: a wife and a woman! I spend a lot of time being a mom, a runner, a student, but I also need to remember to prioritize the positive time I spend with my husband.   The man is my best friend, we have a ton of fun together, and once in a while I need to remind myself to thank him for being as awesome as he is. Therefore, my final 2014 resolution is to instate a regular Date Night. Date Night is for having fun together: doing things like eating a meal without chasing a bib-and-pasta-sauce-clad toddler, discussing art and science using multi-syllabic words, and, if I’m really brave, stepping out of the house sans spare set of clothes and/or diaper.

I have the goal of introducing these New Year Philosophies into my daily life, and hope that  water as my model, I will spend 2014 persistently, optimistically, and flexibly shaping my mental and physical habits to support my running, academic and personal goals.

What are your resolutions, and how are you enacting them in your daily life?

2 thoughts on “New Year Philosophies

  1. Kay

    Nice! I never knew optimism would be something you would have to work harder at! As a chronically injured runner, I’ve decided to learn a new fiddle tune, by memory, each month, so by the time I am 50 I might have quite a repertoire, should I stick to it. Take that, plantar Fasciitis and Achilles tear!

    1. magdalenadonahue

      I think being satisfied and finding the positivity with the ups and downs that go along with balancing life plus running can take work, Kay! I have to sometimes look foe the plus side of only getting 4 hours of sleep…. which is getting more time to see MariaElena grow 🙂

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