Are you a resolution person?
How is it going?
Not so well?
You can restart anytime…
We are approaching the end of January and for some previously eager individuals, they are already finished with this year’s resolution attempt. Don’t feel bad, this is very common. The celebration of change and the ‘strength in numbers’ feeling fades away as January passes and you quickly find yourself all alone with your resolutions, lofty goals, and fitness club commitments that you are beginning to question. As powerful as the fresh start is, often we go into our new year with massive, intimidating, and distant goals that would be amazing to hit but quite often too far out of reach. It isn’t that it is impossible, it just may not be ideal for where we are at physically and or mentally when we get started. It is crucial to set incredible goals, even bigger than we can ever imagine and hopefully you achieve all of them, but it is even more important to plan these goals out. To break them down into much smaller, achievable pieces. For example, to lose 100lbs is a massive goal and something that would be amazing to achieve. As difficult as it is, it is way more intimidating to set the main goal than it is setting micro goals to go with it. To simplify, if we can lose 1lb, 100 times, we can then get to our big goal. Or even better, 5lbs, 20 times. It all comes down to how we feel about it and how difficult it seems. If we simply set the goal to get to 100lbs lost, we will often give up. This micro goal theory can be translated into whatever you are working on. It makes any goal seem so much easier. When we feel that it is easy and achievable, we will keep going.
For years, I struggled through changing anything about myself that seemed difficult or contrary to who I thought I was. I would convince myself that I wasn’t the kind of person that did certain things. Helpful and productive things like read, exercise, diet, apologize, admit I was wrong, and share feelings. While these are just a few examples of what I hoped were different, by the end of every December, the shame and guilt of how I felt about myself, my attitude and certain actions would weigh heavy. Almost as heavy as I was physically. Highs and lows would come through the year but by New Years Eve, I would choose something that stood out and jump on the resolution bandwagon and give it a shot. I felt that somehow the magic of this new year, new me mentality that people seemed excited about would stick with me this time.
No matter what I used to think, I never gave myself a chance. Not only was I unprepared for the work my goals would take to achieve, but I was also so full of excuses that I even had my favourites picked out at the first sign of an obstacle. I would practice them often as I told myself I is too cold, it’s too early, I’ll start tomorrow, I can’t do this, someone like me can’t do this, people don’t change, etc. Excuses were easy and would help me when people around me would ask how things are going or if I *did that thing* (insert goal activity of the season) or not. Excuses were like that warm blanket on a cold night or that fresh pot of coffee in the morning. They made me feel safe. They justified my (lack of) actions. Each year, as January passed and more and more people around me were going back to their old ways, I didn’t need my excuses anymore and life would go back to the comfortable (misery) that I was used to. I survived another January.
As time would pass, as quickly as it does, my mindset wouldn’t change, and another year would end. The same barriers were present, and the same “reasons” would hold me back. I was holding my own head under water and wondering why I couldn’t breathe.
To change something good or bad, in or out of our lives is a big deal. Often, we don’t consider how our new mindset or new person will fit into the life we have already created. We aren’t just changing ourselves but molding our entire lives around the person we hope to be. Some things will be easy and fit nicely, others will be the biggest obstacle you may come across. They were for me. To lose weight, changing your entire diet and shopping habits would need to be considered. Adding a workout routine or walking will be a challenge if you have dependants that make you stay home and have a lot of social or school events that use up your time. Perfecting the elusive morning routine may pose difficult if you have several children to also get ready. If the life you have can’t accommodate the person you hope to be, what can you do? This is where setting micro goals and flexible means to achieve these goals over a longer period is the most crucial.
Before setting vague, high-level goals, make sure you plan them out. ALSO, nobody says you have to finish them before the next January. Maybe your resolution this year only needs a checkpoint by January next year. How productive and successful would you be if you only had to tweak your plan vs start fresh.
I think for so long I felt that I had to have a worst-case scenario situation before I could decide to make changes. That some catastrophic health or life scare would happen before I would make the kind of changes that I needed to make in my life. Why do we naturally feel this way? Why can’t we just be proactive?
As I pass the 3-year anniversary of my decision to change, it is easy to reflect on this journey in some ways and difficult in others.
The easy part for me now is defining the person I was, the reason I maintained unhealthy habits and my refusal to do anything about it. The definition includes a very stubborn account of the things I thought I knew and the belief that I could fix it on my own. The difficult part was getting over this feeling and finally deciding to do something different than what I thought was true about who I was. This difficulty continued until I allowed myself to accept vulnerability and admit that I was wrong. Wrong about the thoughts and feelings I had, wrong about the who I thought I was and wrong about my ability to fix it without help.
The help you need, just like what I needed may come in many different formats. This could be reading or listening to development books, listening to podcasts, watching inspirational videos, unfollowing social media content that doesn't inspire you and finding content that does. It could be seeking therapy or joining a group of people that push you in the direction to be a better version of yourself. There are so many different avenues to take and there is so much that is free. Don't convince yourself that you need to stay where you are because you can’t afford it.
It was important for me to commit to the long road to becoming better when I started and while I would learn more about the importance of this as I grew, it is the best way to compound your growth and development. It is too difficult to change everything all at once.
I wish you all the best in 2024!
You’ve got this!