Do Walk is a slim volume written by Libby DeLana. In less than 150 pages, DeLana tells the inspiring and intrepid story of how she’s walked a cumulative 25,000 miles—the same distance as the Earth’s circumference—over the last nine years, one morning at a time. The #MorningWalk, as she refers to it, began as an intention to spend more time outdoors.
The intention itself was vague, so DeLana went about defining the specifics of a practice (a beautiful word that indicates you’re learning, and committed to it). She knew her intention—reconnecting with the outdoors—held the potential for radically changing her inner and outer life. The what was pretty big, so she kept the how really simple.
She got up every morning at 5am, in all kinds of weather and in every matter of mood, and walked. She walked in the dark. Alone, fighting illness, with a headlamp. She walked in the heat of summer through the coastal New England hamlet where she lives. She walked in silence, and she walked with the companionship of podcasts and music. She walked in foreign cities, on business. In nine years, there wasn’t a single day she didn’t set out. Nine years!
So far as her book says, DeLana’s intention-setting was not part of a New Year’s resolution, but it nonetheless shares several parallels to what many of us do as the calendar year turns over: Make a resolution to incrementally or dramatically shift our behavior and experience of life. Do walk. Do cook. Do make. Do listen. Do something.
Reap What You Sow
Historians have traced the tradition of New Year’s resolutions back 4,000 years, all the way to ancient Babylon. For Babylonians, the new year came in mid-March with a 12-day festival following seeding and planting. Amidst the celebration of their sowing, Babylonians would settle up the past year’s debts and make promises to their pagan gods for the year ahead.
It was Julius Caesar who, in 46 BC, amended the annual calendar to begin on January 1, a month he named after the two-headed god Janus. Janus was believed to hover in doorways, gates, and arches—architectural thresholds that symbolize transition—where he could lay eyes on the past and future simultaneously. Janus thus became the literal figurehead(s) of reflection and projection for resolution-making Romans.
Though our New Year’s traditions in the west are now mostly untethered from deity worship, and whether we formally articulate a resolution or not, January is still considered a month of reset and renewal.
According to YouGovAmerica, the most common resolutions of 2022 fit some variation of losing weight and saving money—which are honestly a bit lackluster. At their best, these resolutions are rote echoes of what we think society wants of us—at their worst, they’re knee-jerk reactions to our recent holiday indulgences, as though we need immediate atonement for our rest and pleasure.
These resolutions are easy to say but hard to do, especially when they leave our lips laced with admonishment. It may come as no surprise then that while approximately one quarter of Americans make New Year’s resolutions an estimated 80 percent are unsuccessful, with the numbers plummeting before the end of January.
Kathy Caprino, the author of a Forbes series called “Accessing the Most Powerful Version of You,” explains how the most successful, and fulfilling, resolutions are the result of real personal introspection and planning.
“I’ve seen that most of us simply can’t bring out significant change in our lives if one key thing is missing—understanding at a deep level why you operate the way you do,” she writes. “Once you understand more intimately your mindsets, values, beliefs, habits and greatest fears, you will begin to realize why certain goals are going to be very hard for you to achieve, and even harder to sustain, unless you commit to a deeper level of change.”
Make a Resolution, then a Plan
Why did DeLana’s walking work? What did she put in place that led her to eventually ambulating the mileage of an entire planet?
Intentions are powerful. But the phrase “despite best intentions” is popular for a reason (not to mention that the road to hell is apparently paved with good ones).
As well as having already identified her desire to spend more time outdoors, DeLana’s practicality—with practice nestled right there within—no doubt put her on the right track. She set a schedule, identified what she needed to comfortably and safely walk each and every day, and then went about getting and using those things. She also knew she was in it for the long-haul. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day, even with Janus lurking overhead.
Is there a Guide for This?
Among the experts, the kinds of goals like DeLana’s are called S.M.A.R.T.: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. It’s one of several tips and tricks recommended by those who are in-the-know. Here are a few others:
- “How to Make (and Keep) a New Year’s Resolution” from the New York Times Smarter Living section has concrete data and how-to’s for resolutioners of all kinds
- “The Top 3 Reasons New Year’s Resolutions Fail and How Yours Can Succeed” by Kathy Caprino pinpoints the great benefit of looking within before laying out your goals
- Multiple Choice Diary by illustrator Mia Nolting lets you playfully track personal changes on a weekly basis (available as a free printable PDF)
- Julia Rothman’s “More / Less List” is simply beautiful—the practice of making these lists may itself be a worthwhile resolution all its own
- Marla Tabaka on how the Choose a Word approach can effectively alter your resolve in the new year (notably, she doesn’t find “resolution” to be particularly awe-inspiring)
Sleep on It
Getting enough sleep, and getting it at the right time, is a resolution we can’t recommend enough. But even if that alone isn’t on the docket, your sleep quality will play a key role in helping you achieve whatever is. Good sleep hygiene improves health and restores a level of balance that can positively affect relationships, work performance, and personal happiness. Do sleep!
If on your 2022 More/Less List you’ve included more rest, health, simplicity, music, beauty, or reconnection and less distraction, anxiety, fatigue, or tech—OneClock is here for you.