We hear the same resolutions every New Year’s Day. I’m gonna start going to the gym. I’m gonna eat healthy now. I’m gonna get in shape. Those are all great goals, but how often do we see them tainted with excuses and quickly fade into the abyss only for them to resurface the following year on January 1st? I think the root of the problem is the reason driving these changes. Is the primary objective to lose weight, to look better, or to impress others? Speaking from my own experience, I don’t think these reasons should be the end goal. I clearly remember the day I entered the fitness realm. After I was invited to a friend's sweet sixteen pool party, I ran several miles and ate salad for lunch every single day until I got that six-pack. Hoping that the abs would permanently imprint on my belly so I would never have to do another crunch again, I quickly realized that if I wanted to keep what I earned, I would have to continue putting in the work. Fitness goals, as with other goals in life, are achievable and sustainable when the motivation driving the change comes from within. Maybe get in shape because you know it’s good for your health and your family depends on your longevity. Or strive to eat healthy because you want to travel without the hindrance of chronic illnesses. Perhaps train for something that you never thought you could accomplish because you want to push your limits. I think most people would agree that the latter, less superficial, reasons for getting into shape will probably lead to more worthwhile results.
Now let’s turn our attention to relationships. Think back to the beginning of any romantic courtship you’ve ever been a part of. Do you remember the flirting, the silly games, and how exciting the chase was? You put in so much time and effort which (hopefully) led to becoming “Facebook official," and then came the honeymoon phase where nothing could seemingly go wrong. Similar to practicing the healthy habits to maintain fitness accomplishments (ie. six-pack example above), it is essential to find the motivation to put in effort each day for a relationship to grow and flourish. Relationships, including all the time spent and emotions invested, head downhill and eventually crumble when effort becomes optional. Maybe those exciting dates at the county fair or movies reverted to TV dinners without conversation. No one wants this to happen, but it inevitably does if we become complacent. One of my favorite quotes reads: “Remember when you wanted what you currently have.” It's a reminder to reflect and be grateful for the arduous journey that you took to get to where you are now. So once you achieve the goal(s) you strive for, be prepared for the more difficult work ahead to sustain that achievement.
The reason I bring up the examples of fitness and romantic relationships is to show that the value of consistency can be generalized to any goal that you set for yourself this year. When you look at yourself in the mirror after an intense workout, nothing has changed. Even after another workout, nothing changes. But the cumulative effects of you getting your butt in the gym and putting in work will undoubtedly result in a new, better version of yourself. Small gestures such as complimenting your significant other probably means nothing in the grand scheme of things. But day after day, all the little acts of generosity certainly build up a relationship that will last. This year, my two resolutions are 1) to develop a deeper relationship with God through prayer, reflection, retreats, getting more out of Sunday mass, and finding Christ in everyday life, and 2) to become a better doctor every day by fighting the temptation to do just enough to get by. Just like everybody else during this season of renewal, I’m on fire about my aspirations for the next year, decade, and beyond. Let’s remember to focus on the little steps we need to take each day to reach those personal milestones. More importantly, remember the hard work it took to get to where you are now and don't get complacent. Keep that fire burning.