New Year, New You…Just Not Quite Yet

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I think I’d be remiss if I let one year end and a new one begin without any reflection, application of learning, and goals for personal improvement. Even so, I’m not one for resolutions per se. If you want to change something, commit to changing it. Don’t wait for a new year and don’t resolve to do it…actually do it, whatever it is.

Anyone attuned to social media sees the commercial promise of improvement. And it’s easy to feel, at the beginning of a new year, that anything is possible. It’s important to start each new year optimistic and hopeful and committed. And if you “just” follow this or that “basic” program or approach, it’s easy, too. Right? Right? RIGHT?

I say this: wrong.

Not because I’m cynical or contrarian, but because I’m practical and realistic

The old saying goes “everything worth having is worth fighting for.” And remember, if it were easy, everyone would be thin and beautiful and wealthy and happy. Right? Right? RIGHT?

I say this: wrong.

Not because I’m cynical or contrarian, but because I’m practical and realistic.

Change is hard. If it were easy, everyone would do whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted to. But change is not impossible, and you can set yourself up for success by designing an approach and a program that works for you, supporting and leveraging your unique strengths to help you achieve your goals.

There’s definitely some pressure that comes with the perceived clean slate of the new year, but the fact of the matter is that the slate isn’t any more or less clean that it is any other day of the year. We’ll never be without our baggage our hopes our excuses and our dreams, often all rolled into a single moment.

So anyway, as I was saying, I’d be remiss if I let an old year start and a new one begin without any reflection…and this year for me the dominant observation and lesson learned was that I have very little choice in what happens to be, I have a lot of choice in how much it weighs. So as I plan my life strategies moving forward—a constant, iterative, ongoing process, not just a perfunctory start-of-year exercise—my thoughts are dominated by this sense of choice. In what I do, how I act, how I react, what I say, what I neglect, how I treat people, how I a manage my finances…and as I think about this, I am immediately overwhelmed by the number of things over which I do have influence. It’s easy to throw your hands up and say “why me?” and then absolve yourself of any responsibility because you didn’t choose to be in whatever situation. That’s a big cop out, and those are the moments when, if you take ownership and accountability, you can start making the change you want and need to make in order to drive happiness and improve your sense of self and your quality of life.

So I say this…take in as much as you can of these self-help articles and guides for change and mantras and whatever…let the goals and ideas and approaches roll around in the back of your mind while you think about what you want, why you want it, and what makes sense for you in terms of an approach to attain it. Synthesize the two, challenge yourself, make a plan…don’t pressure yourself with time (you don’t need to start now) or results (Rome really wasn’t built in a day), but start doing something different…one small thing, as you start to plan…and keep making small and gradual changes and then positive momentum will drive positive momentum…and instead of feeling overwhelmed with a sense of “I can’t”, you’ll feel empowered by a sense of “I can.”

This post was in part driven by a graphic I saw on Facebook, promoting 31 days of habits. I read the proposed behaviors and found myself a bit daunted by these suggestions, and felt like I have so far to go it’s not even worth trying. And then I thought about choice and that it’s always worth trying, especially if you’re open to success coming in the form of “failure” that manifests as valuable lessons learned.

You can see for yourself!

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Here’s the choice for me: walk away from new, good habits because I know I can’t achieve the specific suggested behaviors or make an achievable-ish plan that will challenge me and lead me to self-improvement and increased happiness regardless of the outcome?

I’m choosing the latter, and if you are serious about wanting to change, you’ve already made your choice and this is a no-brainer!

Here’s one way you could approach it:

Make a list of things you want to do, broken down into small, manageable chunks.

Your list will be unique to you, of course, but this might serve as a guideline or a jumping-off point. I’ll go through each of the above suggested habits and “translate” some of the ones that I could be daunting into behaviors that are a little more realistic/aligned with lifestyle and goals…and remember, one a week for 31 weeks would be more than adequate!!! Plus, they say it takes 21 days to make a habit so once you get one down, then add in another…don’t take on too much at once so you abandon ship…drive change at a pace that it’s sustainable enough to become habitual. Be realistic!

1) Drink your water => For one week, drink your water and keep track of how much you drink. Also, substitute one “bad” drink a day with two 8 ounce glasses of water.

2) Exercise for 30 minutes => Exercise for 30 minutes 2x/week, then 3x, increasing the time as the weeks go.

9) Add a few planks to your routine => Try a plank at a set time every day for 5, 10 or however many seconds you can hold it, increasing the time as you go.

26) Eat breakfast you made at home => Eat breakfast, period.

You get the idea. Build a plan that works for you!

Maybe you have these two goals, exercising more and eating healthier. So try this:

Exercise more => Run or walk 3x/week with one core strength session

Eat healthier => Try one new healthy recipe a week

The key is to be flexible while being committed, and to get started. So go. Now. Do it!

You’ll be happier, I promise!

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