Last year I walked, a lot. After walking my dog, I would walk some more. Quarantine made me stir-crazy, and it felt good to be outdoors. Walking is the only form of exercise that I really enjoy, and I like listening to books or short stories while I do it. Some days I just like blaring music. Then winter hit, and I stopped walking.
I didn’t realize it at first because I still walked my dog. But she’s a small dog, and I only take her a mile. The notion didn’t occur to me until a sunny day last week, unseasonably warm for January, around 40 degrees. I needed to walk, and not just around the neighborhood. I put on my boots, drove to the Outdoor Campus, and took to the trails.
The sky was a bright blue, the color of summer, and the wind a mere breeze. So many winter days are dull gray, thick with clouds and bluster. I’m sure it was the sun that reminded me of my previous walks. The tree branches were bare but lined with beautiful strokes of white snow, as if a painter passed his brush there just for me. The lake was half frozen, and I followed the little animal tracks as far as I could with my eye, wondering what walked there and how it knew the ice thinned, for the tracks only went so far before returning to the shore. Soon, the hour was spent, and I too, returned home, feeling good.
Habits might not feel good while you’re forming them. They might even feel like work—or in the case of quarantine, the lesser of two evils. But once walking became a habit, it was no longer a chore but a way to feel good. To expend something inside with energy.
If your New Year’s resolutions include change, they include creating new habits. It will take doing them over and over again to feel routine and even longer to feel good. But if you really desire change, it will be worth it.
What changes are you making this year? What habits will help you meet your new goals?