Today you are at risk of abandoning something important to you. The real tragedy is how close you are to winning before you run out of energy, ideas and resolve and turn back. Every one of your victories is a time you found a way forward. Every one of your victories is a time you got help from someone. Who needs your help this week to get over their obstacle? Whose help do you need? This is a team sport.
This is the week according to Strava that most people will quit their heroic initiatives to improve themselves, break that stubborn habit or achieve that elusive personal best. January 19th is the official resolution abandonment day. This is the day, that if you are not conscious and careful, that your tank of precious will chokes on its own fumes.
Mountain bikers, swimmers and runners around the world log their activities on Strava. After assessing millions of discrete data points, each representing a day and time that an athlete started and completed and activity, they have concluded that this is the time when the burst of enthusiasm runs out for most people and their pace of activity dwindles or dies. I am assuming that the athletic population who at least took the initiative to create a Strava profile is somewhat representative of the general population.
The state of the world is the net effect of all the quitting.
And all the winning. It is my job as a coach to develop and test theories as to why people choose one over the other. Based on my empirical observations over the years, I had it pegged at January 18th. Here's my theory: I think too many commitments are forged in the fires of fantasy, self-hate and ego, rather than in the sweet air of humility and loving self-care.
Here's the cruel irony of change: we all know that change takes a while to take. I've read estimates anywhere from two weeks to two months. From personal experience, I'd give it more like two quarters. The point is that the time required to dislodge a habit stubbornly guarded by neurotransmitter loops, social context and less constructive beliefs is longer than the elapsed time from January 1 to January 19th. Most of us begin the journey with not enough gas to get to the next station. The engine sputters and forward motion slows or stops.
So what is the equivalent of a fuel stop? I generally check-in with the people I am supporting in intervals no longer than two weeks. The check-in is an infusion of energy for the intrepid challenger seeking to push the boundaries of physical performance and emotional engagement.
People are vastly more capable than they think they are.
But they need some help to unlock the potential. The check-in is an opportunity to fortify the resolve of our people in the face of daunting challenge by lending them energy. Why does this work? I might run out excitement for my shit, if I am supporting you, I have likely not run out of excitement for the vision you have (and nor have you for the people you support). I'd argue that the very act of supporting someone else to breakthrough is a great strategy to feel more energized myself. I fill my tank by helping you fill yours.
The people who survive quitting day with their commitments intact have reached out and received support long before their tanks ran out. And they have offered and delivered mission-critical emotional support to others. This means that every two weeks they have exchanged meaningful support moments with a significant number of people. That, people, is a team.
The real heroes are the people giving and receiving support.
If you are going to quit something on quitter's day, why not quit the pretense of thinking you are on some noble quest to get across the finish line alone. Winners aren't the ones who got the least help. The only thing you really prove by going it alone is that you are only capable of finishing a 19 day sprint rather than the gratifying marathon of real change. Supporters don't quit and quitters don't support.