2017: A Year to Evolve

Like a lot of people, at the start of a new year, I like to choose a word that I want to define myself and my life for the upcoming 365 days. In 2016 it was “Joy”. And even through all the not-so-good things that happened throughout the year, there was also an awful lot of joy, too. I made an effort to focus on seeing the joy in life as much as possible, and it made a big difference. Because that’s the thing about joy – its often pretty easy to find, once you get out there looking for it.

A few weeks ago I started thinking ahead to 2017 and what word spoke to me. What word I wanted to define my life for the coming year. I was out running as I was mulling this over, and out of nowhere, a word came to me.

Evolve.

The last couple of years a lot of my time and energy has been about either just holding my own, or rebuilding after a big change. Now that we’re in a more settled place, I feel that this upcoming year needs to be about change. Doing better. Growth. Evolution. I’m not sure what this is exactly going to look like. I’ll be honest, it kind of scares the crap out of me. Growth, change, evolving – all those things mean busting out of my comfort zone and pushing myself. And as we all know, comfort zones are just so dang comfy.

So that’s where I’m at, and that’s where I’m headed for 2017. It’s my year to evolve.

 

Comfort Zones and Challenging Beliefs

Winter running

I’ve spent the last five years or so saying how much I hate winter running. I hate being cold. I hate slushy, slippery sidewalks. I hate being cold. I hate getting out in the dark of the morning. I hate being cold.

By the way, did I mention that I hate being cold?

This year when January hit, I set myself a list of goals and resolutions for the upcoming year. One of them was to run at least 1,000 km in 2014. I’ve never set a mileage goal like that before, and I thought it would be a good way to challenge myself a bit, since I seemed to struggle somewhat in the running department in 2013.

I knew that running 1,000 km meant that I couldn’t take three months + off from running like I’ve been doing these past several years. That left me with only one choice: dragging my ass out in the dark and the could and suffering through winter running. And so that’s what I’ve been doing.

Something that I’ve been slowly realizing over these past six weeks or so,  that finally hit me square in the face this morning as I was hitting the streets in -17 degree windchill (that’s about 1 degree Farenheit for my non-Canadian friends), is this:

I don’t hate winter running.

Sure, it’s not my favourite condition for running. But I’ve been enjoying the fresh cold air and watching the mornings slowly get lighter and lighter. The worst thing about the cold is the thought of it more than the actual reality. I’ve been so busy telling myself that I hate winter running for the past 5+ years that I haven’t taken the time to decide if that’s how I really feel.

The thing is, we all hold beliefs about ourselves. We tell ourselves that we’re unattractive. That we don’t like “healthy food”. That we can’t lose weight or be healthy. That we aren’t athletes. That we can’t change _______(insert whatever undesirable quality we have).

We cling to these beliefs because holding onto them serves a purpose. It keeps us firmly planted in our comfort zones. If I didn’t challenge my belief about winter running then I could keep myself hunkered down in my warm cozy bed every morning. I wouldn’t have to risk being uncomfortable.

But here’s what else I know about comfort zones. Sure, they’re comfortable, but they also keep us from growing and getting better.

I know for a fact that I am stronger and in better shape this January compared to last January. I’m getting out there and putting in the miles. My body is happier and healthier for it. Sure, I don’t get to spend that extra time snoozing and snuggling with my husband, but that’s not going to make me a better runner, now is it?

We all enjoy our comfort zones. And sure, they’re good for a while. They’re safe…and sometimes we need that safety and security in our lives. The problem with comfort zones is that though they may be safe, they also hold us back. And if you ask me, success as a human being isn’t about being comfortable and being safe all the time, it’s about reaching and stretching and doing better and learning.

So wherever our comfort zones are, it’s important to try and break out of them every once in a while. Challenge those beliefs about ourselves that are only holding us back. This year I’ve learned that I don’t really hate winter running after all. And heck, if I can learn that, them I’m sure there are a whole lot of other beliefs I’m clinging to that are holding me back as well.

What if we all started letting go of our negative beliefs?