Christmas is a special time of the year....It's a time to come together, to spend time with friends and family, break bread and reflect on the year in preparation for January. But while this might fill you with love and joy, there's a negative side too; stress, unrealistic expectations, disappointment and panic to eat all the cake and chocolate in sight.
So come January 31st, we are desperately counting the hours to the New Year and with that comes the dreaded new year's resolutions. omehow it feels as though the whole world is more open to dreamy possibilities and setting resolutions.
We announce it to the world and get stuck in. We're motivated, we're ready, we're doing this.....and yet just 8% of us will succeed. It's a tradition as old as time and yet not exactly something I would call effective - there's even a #resolutionfail hashtag!
I have fallen for it countless times and come out feeling worse than when I started. Sure it starts great, but a few weeks in I always end up not hitting my expectations, miserable and hating myself. It's not a good way to start the New Year and I can promise you it didn't get me very far in making actual progress.
I could never understand it, these goals were really important to me so why would I fail? Well what's come of all of this is some interesting lessons....
Why All the Change?
First off, why all the change? Why do you want to change yourself? Because believe you me, if you think your life will be perfect once you lose those 10 lbs or once you run a 5km....it's not. When it comes to fitness/health goals, the biggest biggest biggest lesson I learnt in the last two years was to stop focusing on that 'end' point, stop thinking 'I will be happy once I xxx'....because that end point will never come. Sure I might lose x amount of weight, but suddenly it's not enough or it's a let down and I m none the happier. No. The real trick is that you HAVE to love yourself at the 'start'. You have to appreciate and credit your body as it is. Because it's pretty fricking amazing! How lucky are you to be able to walk, run, sit, stand, see, hear, talk, move?...some people would kill for that. This applies to any goal....monetary goals for example....sure you might not be able to afford a Ferrari but how lucky are you to be able to put food on the table, or pay that unexpected bill? You catch my drift..... Only when you truly accept the current so called 'starting' point and put it in a positive light, can you start to move forward.
The Wrong Kind of Focus
The second biggest lesson is that I focused on the wrong thing. Again I use the health/fitness example whereby most of the time I put my goals focused on my looks - wanting to have visible abs, be a certain weight, fit a certain size. It kind of hit me like a bag of bricks earlier this year....what use is it to me to just look a certain way? My body is an amazing thing and I want to be able to USE it. I want to be able to do 10 dips, 20 unbroken push ups/pull ups, deadlift/squat my bodyweight, run a sub 20 min 5km etc. I decided to instead maximise my potential and truly appreciate what I am capable of. And guess what.....by being able to do these things, my body shape changed to fit the purpose....so again the takeaway is for you to think are you really looking at the right 'end' or can you maybe rephrase your goals like I did.
A Flawed System.
Finally I learnt was that when it comes to New Year's resolutions, the system is flawed, not the goals!
The most popular resolutions include losing weight, getting organised and spending less money.
Popular or not, these goals are not realistic. There is no plan of action; no timeline, no targets, no step by step plan, no roadmap. You are literally setting yourself up for failure by deciding to just 'lose weight'. It all boils down to motivation - people believe motivation is the key to success but really it's not. Motivation is short term...it's that January feeling everyone gets as they hop, skip and jump to the gym. But a few weeks in, when progress isn't as obvious and temptations are rife, it's your 'why' that drives you forward and pushes motivation aside. Stating that you just want to 'lose weight' has no 'why'.
So what do you need to succeed?
I want to give you a step by step way to figure this out and unpack your goal a bit better. I suggest writing this down on a piece of paper you can store away in a safe place.
- Start with a goal - what do you want to achieve this year? Make this as SPECIFIC as possible. The best way to do it is to make the goal MEASURABLE. So for example, instead of losing weight, decide how much? This is your END POINT.
- Where are you now? I.e. what is your starting point with all of this and how does it relate to your goal? Again jot down a few thoughts. So if you want to run a 5km race, your right now could be that you walk the dog 2x daily. This is your START POINT.
- What tools do you need? Change always feels vulnerable and having the right support system in place to help you is going to be key, especially on the tough days. So think about family, friends, colleagues that might help or join you on this journey. And tell them your goal!
- The ROADMAP: Now that you have the various pieces of the puzzle, it's time to map out your plan of attack. How exactly are you going to get from A to B and BY WHEN? Set an end date AND most importantly decide on your checkpoints; How and when are you going to check your progress. So again if we take weight loss, checkpoints might consist of weekly weight ins, tape measurements and maybe a meeting with your trainer to take some progress pictures. If your goal is more fitness related, it might be a fitness test of some sort.
And finally fear.....
The new year brings with it the unknown. It's exciting but fear is embedded in change and inevitably comes with any resolution. Fear is part of the process. The biggest realisation I had this year is that everyone experiences the same feeling of fear at one point or another and that makes fear quite boring if you think about it. It really stuck with me this idea that fear is nothing special so why let it bother you so much. AND more importantly, why fight it. Fear is part of the journey, it should be in the car with you, it just can't control the drive. You have to shove it in the back seat and tell it to shut up....I m taking this from the book, Big Magic. I highly recommend you read it if any of this speaks to you. It will change your life. Here's the link:
So remember, you got this! :)