Saturday, December 8, 2018

Dreading the pressure of New Year’s resolutions? Read my non-traditional guidelines to help you achieve success and have fun while doing it.

Starting over.  I ran three miles about a month ago. It was rough. Some might say three miles is a great accomplishment but just 6 months earlier I had completed my goal of running a half marathon, pushing three little monsters in a triple stroller. My youngest daughter has just turned one and getting my health back was part of my postpartum goal. I was feeling strong, mentally healthy, and proud of myself for finishing the race. I never ran again. Not at all. Until last month.

There were a million valid reasons as to why I stopped running. When I saw the picture this morning that had been taken during my 5K it got me thinking about goals and reflecting on how happy I was that I wasn’t afraid to start over and set a new goal for myself. Goals do not always need to be big and it’s okay to stop and start again. If I would have become stuck in my whoa is me, feeling sorry for myself that I could no longer run one mile comfortably mode,  I never would have taken to first step that lead me to this picture and the awesome memory with my kids. To me, the definition of failure is not trying. How about you?

Have you ever sabotaged a goal before you even started it? Told yourself that new year resolutions are not worth it because you never finish them anyway? Perhaps listed 5,000 reasons why you could never meet your goal before you put down one reason why you could? Are you afraid of failure so you tell yourself that you would rather not try to begin with? If any of these sound familiar, you are not alone. Before you give up on yourself and your goals consider the fact that feeling overwhelmed and discouraged is very normal but it doesn’t have to dictate your behavior.

There are a million tips available online for meeting your New Year’s goals but consider some of these helpful but uncommon tools to give yourself a head start this year.

Keep a positive growth mindset. Language can be an incredible tool for change, both positive and negative. How we define ourselves has a direct outcome on our behavior; so if we start our day viewing ourselves as a failure, there is only room for one outcome. Any guesses? Failure. Label yourself as a capable individual that WILL meet your goal.

Avoid all or nothing thinking. The best thing you can do for yourself is not to get stuck in common pitfalls of unhelpful thinking styles. An unhelpful thinking style is a label we apply to ourselves or a situation that is not based on fact, but we have decided it’s true regardless of contrary evidence. These thoughts are typically automatic and take work to reframe. Ask yourself if your thought is based on fact or opinion. Then see if there is another way of looking at the situation and consider an alternative viewpoint. For example, perhaps you didn’t meet your weekly goal, but did you keep a positive mindset? Did you complete 2 out of 5 days? Did you remain committed despite not meeting your weekly goals? Chances are you did make progress, you did not fail and you are closer to meeting your long-term goal.

Don’t get stuck in the past. Staying stuck in the past keeps us from moving forward. We become so focused on what went wrong that we don’t put enough emphasis into what can go right. It’s okay to reflect on past events but only to identify strengths and areas you can build off of and learn from to help you move forward.

When creating your goals use these tips to avoid setting unrealistic and unmeasurable goals. 

1. Be very clear on your goal. Write it down. Break it down into steps that you will need to work up to your goal. Create an outline of steps you will take daily, weekly, and monthly and celebrate each level of success.

2. Don’t be afraid to redefine your goal once you get into it. Perhaps the way you originally wrote your goal doesn’t seem as important or isn’t as realistic; modify it. There is a fine line between justification for giving up on a goal that you can meet but choose not to put in the work versus a valid reason to modify it. Only you can truly know if you are selling yourself short.

3. Be clear on why you are choosing your goal. Is the goal really important to you or are you being influenced by the “should police?”

4. Visualize how it will feel when you meet your goal. Get out of your head and tap into a deeper sense of allowing and experiencing the visceral joy of meeting your goal. Tap into this feeling when you get discouraged or off track.

5. Keep others in mind when you start to feel selfish for taking the time to work on your goal. When we improve ourselves we automatically create a positive ripple effect in the world around us.

Show yourself some love and make a commitment to set a goal, or several goals this upcoming year. Feeling motivated? Start now. There is nothing that says you need to pick January 1st as your start date. Changing your habits is no easy task and challenging yourself to try something new for the benefit of health is a win regardless of the outcome.  I may not have run 13 miles over Thanksgiving but I ran 3.  My kids didn’t care what I used to be able to do, they cared where I was that day. They were in the moment celebrating my gift of freedom to work toward personal goals and experiencing an awesome morning with their Mom. I’m so happy that I was willing to accept where I was that day versus staying stuck where I came from!

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