10 New Year's Resolutions EVERY Spartan Has to Commit to (and Why)

The last couple of years have been something of a shit show. But as Spartans, we know that when the going gets tough, we have to get tougher. And there’s no greater time to make a commitment to being a better, braver human than when heading into a brand new year.

So, if you’re wondering what you can do to bring your best game this year, here are 10 unbreakable, Spartan-approved New Year's resolution ideas to tackle in 2022.

1. Focus Only on What Matters Most

Your first New Year’s resolution is to stop and refocus on what really matters to you.

If life has gotten away from you over the last couple of years and you’re finding yourself more stressed, strained, or disengaged from family, friends, and interests, then it’s time to course-correct.

We can’t control everything that happens in life, but we can take responsibility for what we choose to focus on. And if we’re fixating on the small stuff or things that take us away from the people, interests, and needs that fill us up with energy and enthusiasm for life, then we need to reevaluate how we spend our days and shift the focus toward what’s essential to our wellbeing.

2. Set One Large and Specific Fitness Resolution (and Put a Date on the Calendar)

It’s no secret that since 2020's COVID-related lockdowns, the level of most people’s physical activity has dropped dangerously. In one BMC Public Health study, 23.3% of people surveyed displayed moderate to severe anxiety symptoms that were associated with low physical activity levels.

So this year, set one big and specific fitness resolution. And to make sure it sticks? Put a date on the calendar. This could be for a Spartan race or another fitness event — such as DEKA FIT — that’ll challenge you to take your fitness to another level.

Putting a date on the calendar is what we call “the Spartan Paradox.” As Spartan CEO Joe De Sena states, “Once you put a date on the calendar, you become serious. You become disciplined. You must commit to something first, and that forces you to do the work.”

3. Create an Action Plan for Your Goals

Now that you’re focused on what’s essential to your life, start setting milestones or “action commitments” for the related goals. Ask yourself what specific and measurable steps can you take to get you to your end goal.

In a study conducted by the Dominican University of California, participants who wrote out their goal along with action commitments accomplished significantly more of their goal than those who didn’t.

4. Sign up NOW for a Spartan Race That You've Never Run Before

If you’re a committed Spartan, you may already have a few finisher’s medals under your belt. But even if you do, admit it: There’s still that “one race” out there, the race that everyone says is a challenge; the one you’re not sure you’re ready for.

Well, get ready. 2022 is your year. Sign up and put the date on the calendar.

And if you’ve never raced before, change that next year and register for the closest race NOW.

5. Decide to Worry Less

There’ll always be something to worry about. If it’s not COVID-19, it’s the electricity bill, your kids’ grades at school, or world hunger.

Some of what worries us are outside of our control (or are never going to happen), but fretting about it can harm our mental and physical health. Worrying has been linked to fatigue, sleep problems, poor concentration, and general unhappiness.

So in the new year, make an active decision to worry less. That doesn’t mean trying to rid yourself of all anxious thoughts. (Spoiler alert: That’s never going to happen). But there are actions you can take to dial down the angst.

Experts suggest deep breathing exercises, meditation, or lacing up your shoes and getting moving.

6. Ask More Questions

People often feel like asking questions makes them sound stupid, but science says that it’s an important factor in maintaining brain health. Studies show that asking questions and finding answers helps stimulate the brain and releases serotonin, a key hormone in initiating feelings of well-being, emotional balance, and happiness.

In addition, people who ask questions tend to be more productive because, as Marilee Adams, president and founder of the Inquiry Institute and the author of Change Your Questions, Change Your Life, writes, “questions that are ‘learner questions’ and are open-minded, curious, and creative … typically lead to discoveries, understanding, and solutions.”

Ask more questions in 2022 to keep your brain healthy and your productivity on point.

7. Get Outside of Your Comfort Zone Once a Month (or More)

Like the majority of Americans that make New Year's resolutions, you'll fall flat on yours if you can’t get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Getting out of your comfort zone will fire up your focus, creativity, and ability to respond to life’s curveballs. Only by stepping beyond what you’re used to or think that you can do will allow you to be able to overcome fears and gain confidence in your choices.

At least once a month, do something that makes you cringe with discomfort. That could be taking a cold shower or giving a presentation. It could be pushing yourself that extra mile on your daily run or going the extra mile to help a colleague. Do something different and difficult and we promise you, it’ll make you a better human.

8. Ditch a Bad Habit

Bad habits are difficult to ditch. That’s because your brain is already wired to accept and reward whatever habitual activity you’re doing without you even having to think about it.

But our brains are plastic, which means that they can readily change to learn new things. Just because you’ve been eating unhealthily for the last 20 years doesn’t mean the next 20 years can’t be different, or that your need to check your social media feed every 20 minutes can’t be rerouted into in-person conversations with friends and family instead.

Change can be hard in the short term. But not changing is even harder in the long run. So pick a bad habit you have (you'll know which one) and ditch it in 2022.

One way to do this successfully is to swap out your bad habit for something beneficial. For example, every time you feel like reaching for a cigarette, reach for a glass of water instead. If your evenings are usually spent on the sofa scrolling through social media, fill them with more healthful activities like an hour in the gym or some time spent with loved ones.

9. Start a Fitness Habit You've Been Putting Off

Most of us have random thoughts around healthful activities that come in and out of our minds. (You know, things like “I should lift more” or “I’d love to train for a marathon one day.”) Well, it's to make Jan. 1 that day. This new year, commit to incorporating a simple fitness habit into your life that you’ve been putting off for no good reason.

10. Start a Gratitude Practice

There are countless studies out there to show the benefits of a regular gratitude practice. From enhancing optimism to reducing stress, being grateful is also known to improve your overall physical health and increase your frequency of exercise (which can help you hit some of your other New Year's resolutions).

In fact, there are many emotional, social, career, and health benefits to establishing a habit of gratitude. Make counting your good fortunes — whatever they may be — your 10th New Year’s resolution idea, and get ready to make 2022 a year of becoming the best Spartan that you can be.