A new year, welcome 2019! This is the time when many people reflect on the past year and think about what they want for the year ahead- "New Years resolutions" (which I put in quotes because it has a reputation!). New Years is a natural time to take stock of things. According to the reputation of resolutions and a whole lot of articles floating around, New Years resolutions often fail before January is out....leading to many people saying, "My New Years resolution is to not have any resolutions!".
The New Year may be a good time to set intentions, send out the motivating and positive energy. Here in New England, and in many parts of the world, January is also a cold, usually icy, usually snowy, with long dark afternoons and nights, not really the optimal environment to stay motivated. Change in general is tough, even when desired and positive. Change means our typical ways of coping might be out the window. Change may mean overcoming some tough stuff like changing eating patterns (guilty stress eater here!), working out more (or start too work out), save money, travel more, "find myself"...is any of this easy??? Nooooo!!!
We are talking about difficult changes and often we set these goals that sound great but we don't even know exactly how to reach them.
You may have heard about "SMART" goals from the business world: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timely. When I was learning more about goals and motivation and life change, I had to learn the difference between "goals" and "objectives". Goal being what we are changing or striving to do/be, objective is the HOW. Yeah, I heard about figuring out "how", I heard about "chunking" goals into smaller pieces that are less overwhelming but I hadn't really done any of that. You don't have to follow the acronym SMART but take the concept and apply it to your resolutions. For example:
Pick one resolution:
I want to work out more.
Yes, great, work out more. How? What are you going to do? What does "more" mean?
I want to start running.
Good! Now we know what "work out" means, you want to start running. Have you ever run before? If the answer is no, then you are setting up a lofty challenge and need to start slow, building on your strengths.
I want to run every morning at 7 am, going around the block 2 times.
Better. Now, can you run the 2 blocks? Or do you start with walking, building up to running in say, 2 weeks? Are you a morning person? Do you get up and greet the day with energy or is afternoon or evenings more your time? If you are an afternoon person and you set a goal of 7 am but usually get up at 9 am, and have just enough time to get out the door, maybe 7 am is not the most realistic and after work/school is better. And is the 2 blocks good? If I were to set that for myself in January, I know that I would be done super quick. The first snowy morning I'd cuddle under the comforter and tell myself "tomorrow". Tomorrow would be delayed because snow plows have drifts covering part of the street...etc......etc......
I am going to run 1 mile every morning on the treadmill in the living room.
Great! Now we are really getting somewhere!!! Last suggestion- time frame. When do you want to start and when will you be ready to build up to the next step?
I am going to run 1 mile every morning starting on Tuesday on the treadmill in the living room. I'm going to run 4 times each week for the next two weeks.
Now I know what you mean when you say you want to work out. And this looks weird because it is SO specific and detailed but I know what I am working towards and I know how I'm going to do it.
My favorite quote is attributed to Mary Pickford and says,
You can have a fresh start any time you choose because this thing we call failure is not falling down, but staying down.
Miss a day? Pick up again- it was a speed bump, not a stop sign. And ANY time you choose- you don't have to wait for New Years or a new week or the first of the month to start working on what you would like for your life. You can have that fresh start any time you choose. Just get up, don't stay down.
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