From time to time, my yoga teacher tells us various little words of wisdom at the beginning of class. Today he spoke of a time when he was out hiking with a friend, and after some time had passed they came to the realization that they would be unable to reach the summit before night had fallen and they had to turn back. My yoga teacher said that he was lamenting the fact that they would be unable to summit the hike and his friend imparted some words that he had long held as words of wisdom. His friend said, we are having a good time right? And the yoga teacher said yes of course, friend said, then what does it matter if we reach the summit? We are right here right now having a wonderful time. The view from the top is beautiful, but it isn’t necessary to the pleasure of this experience. The yoga teacher said that he wanted us all to apply this to our decisions to make New Year’s Resolutions. That it isn’t necessary to achieve some high and mighty goal, but rather most important is the day to day effort towards the goal, even if we do not actually get there. And in the end its the effort that should in fact be the goal. He said let’s say you decide I am going to do yoga every single day this coming year, a better option would be to say, when I do yoga, which I will do as often as I can, I will put all of my effort into doing it.
So often a person makes this resolution that is almost setting yourself up for failure. You decide you will reach the top, if you fail to achieve the top on the first day, or the thirtieth day you view it as a failure. Rather the idea should be to set yourself a goal that involves more of the day to day effort. The thing is that reaching the summit may not even be what you need to do, perhaps some other goal is more important. Reach the vista that is 2/3rds of the way to the top, or just go for a lovely walk in the woods.
I have resolved to try and exercise every single day. I know I won’t exercise every day, I will undoubtedly be sidelined with a cold, and the part time job I have may at some point steal enough of my energy to make exercise more effort than I can give. The thing is, that I know I need to be aware of a consistent effort to exercise. I should not see one day of not exercising as a failure. It is just one day. And really standing in judgment, oh you didn’t go to the gym so that isn’t real exercise, or oh you only managed 15 minutes, or you were in bed with bronchitis and didn’t manage to exercise for a week, shouldn’t sideline your effort for the whole year.
So what about your New Year’s resolution, have you set your goal as reaching the top? Or have you set your goal as maintaining a consistent effort for the year? I have to say, there really is No Need to Reach the Top, if you are taking each step one at a time.