I Suck at Commitments: Why I Ditched my 52 Hike Challenge

I Suck at Commitments: Why I Ditched my 52 Hike Challenge

It’s the middle of September now, so I feel like the time has come to formally admit defeat and write this post. I failed at the one New Year’s Resolution that I thought I could actually keep.

January 1st, 2017 was a really weird day. I’ve always had an odd relationship with New Year’s (and with most holidays that I feel cultural pressure to spend with my husband – thanks, Army). I’ve written about it a couple times in my quarterly goals posts (man, I really gotta do another one of those), but the general gist of it is, New Year’s Eve/Day is one of those holidays that I feel pressure to do “the right way” but, spoiler, it never goes the right way. This could either be because I suck as a person, or because there really is no right way to start a new year – I’m leaning more towards the second explanation.

Regardless, on December 31st 2016, I was driving through the night, hauling ass back to Fort Riley so I could spend this stupid holiday with my husband because, in our five years of being together, we were rarely ever actually together on New Year’s.  Now that the Army life is fading in the rearview mirror, this seems kind of silly – we have a whole life together so why does one holiday matter? Well, because at the time when Troy was still freshly back from a nine month deployment, it just did. I was sick of seeing happy couples kissing in Times Square and always being the one sitting at my parents’ house crying into a bottle of champagne.

So 2016/early 2017 Michelle was determined to do this one right. I was going to kiss my husband, pop champagne, watch the ball drop, and make a New Year’s Resolution that was fun enough to actually keep. Psych! Like two of those things actually happened. I wrote a lot more in-depth about the actual sequence of events on New Year’s Eve in this post, but basically, I rung in my New Year by sleeping because I spent the past two days driving, drinking beer because beer > champagne, and failing at even the most fun, low pressure New Year’s Resolution I could come up with.

Actually, it took a while for me to fail at my New Year’s Resolution – or at least a while to admit that I was officially giving up.

I started off 2017 with the intention of taking the 52 Hike Challenge; I was going to do 52 new hikes before the year was over. In general, I know that I suck at New Year’s Resolutions so I’m not really sure why I even tried this last year. If they work for you, then great, but for me they just remind me of how much I suck at commitment and they never really lead to any lasting changes. Hence, I usually just stick with my quarterly goals. If I was smarter in December/January I would’ve just realized, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” My quarterly goals work for my all-over-the-place life and short attention span, but since I was so hell bent on doing New Year’s “right,” I ended up setting myself up to fail at yet another yearly commitment.

So here’s where I admit to y’all (who have probably already figured this out because I only posted like 3 official 52 Hike Challenge posts on here) that I totally failed at the one New Year’s Resolution that I thought I would be able to keep. And, truth be told, the hiking wasn’t the thing that I failed at. I hiked several times a week while we were living in the van and I’ll probably end the year not too far off from 52 hikes. It was actually the numbering, keeping track of, and deciding which hikes counted as real hikes towards the challenge that really did me in.

In my half-assed attempt to rewire my whole non-committal circuitry, I added a degree of difficulty and just general drudgery to something that, when not regulated, measured, carefully photographed and written about every time, brings me a ton of joy. If I had to nail down exactly when I gave up, I’d guess that I ditched the 52 Hike Challenge around June. We were living in the van then, and when I would go wandering across seemingly endless BLM land, I’d wonder, “does this count as a hike?” And as soon as I started asking myself stupid questions like that, I knew it was time to admit defeat.

Keeping hiking something fun and relaxing and sacred was and is more important to me than not seeming like a failure in front of people on the internet.

Although its cliché, something I tell myself after most of my failures (there are A LOT of them) is “forget the mistake, but remember the lesson it taught you.” I’m the type to dwell on my failures if I don’t forcibly remind myself that doing that is never constructive. This could’ve easily been one of those things where, to save myself from failing, I would’ve made hiking miserable for myself. But luckily, I decided to cut my losses, forget that I failed, and focus on what I learned from this latest sad attempt at a year-long commitment.

The lesson is: you’re really bad at New Year’s resolutions, Michelle. You’ve known this for years. Stop making them.

Noted. Let’s queue up the next set of quarterly goals and call it good – oh and keep hiking, obviously, but don’t worry so much about the counting part.

Did anyone else give up on their 52 Hike Challenge or maybe another New Year’s Resolution? Do you wish you had stuck with it or are you glad you’ve moved on?