I drove past the local health club a few days ago and noticed their sign boldly advertising, “New Year’s Resolutions? Join today!” That was strange, considering it is already mid-March. Maybe it was a mistake. A few days later, I noticed the sign had changed. It now proclaimed, “New Year, New You!” Okay, so maybe it wasn’t a mistake.
But, it’s now early spring. St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner. Our New Year’s resolutions have long been forgotten and abandoned. The weather is getting warmer, the days are getting longer, and people are coming out of their winter hibernation with the promise of spring. Everyone is dusting off their bicycles, pulling out their golf clubs, signing up for runs, pouring into the local parks, and dreaming about picnics and cookouts. Why in the world would anyone chose joining a stuffy old gym over the seduction of a beautiful spring day and outdoor activities? It seemed like an odd marketing and advertising strategy to me.
Then I started thinking about it. Why do we set our New Year’s resolutions on January 1st, anyway? Is it just because it’s the beginning of a new calendar year? Or maybe it’s because some of us are feeling guilty about over indulging during the holidays. So, we set lofty goals that sound pretty good during the mad rush of the holidays, only to face the harsh reality of squeezing into spandex, braving the cold harsh weather and short dark days to get to the gym. As an extra bonus, we will be surrounded by those folks who kept their New Year’s resolutions from the previous year. Yikes!
It’s a recipe for disaster, and almost a set up for failure. No wonder why we throw in the towel after a few weeks. But, I have another idea. Wouldn’t it make more sense to hunker down, snuggle in, and slowly recover from the holidays and enjoy the long winter nights? Rather than setting unrealistic goals for ourselves, maybe we could take some time to nurture ourselves, and carefully plan moderate changes over the next three months. We can begin to implement these changes at a reasonable pace. Then, when spring arrives and the days start getting longer and warmer, we can address our resolutions with a renewed energy and enthusiasm. And, increase our chances of success.
So much for my skepticism about the wisdom of the health club and their marketing strategy. This health club may be on to something. They certainly got my attention. The problem is, St. Patrick’s Day Resolutions doesn’t have the zip that New Year’s Resolutions does. March Madness is already taken. April Fool’s hardly seems appropriate. The truth is, it doesn’t matter when you begin, as long as you start moving in the right direction. Remember, if it’s physical, it’s therapy!
Cheryl Ilov, PT, GCFP