We know the routine…a new year rolls around and with that comes high hopes, aspirations, goal-setting, and motivation to once again propel us forward. Individuals all over the world are commiting to new lifestyle changes, improved relationships, and reassessment of their priorities. However, for many people New Year’s resolutions may already be fading…even though we are just a couple of days into 2010. So should we just ignore the onset of a new year, forget making resolutions that we may fail at, and just stay in the old rut? Of course not! I have heard it said that the only difference between a rut and a grave is the depth…it’s time to get out of ruts!
So let’s begin to consider some of the common obstacles that turn a motivated, energetic, positive individual into a discouraged, frustrated, and tired one.
(1) Past Failures
The reason some have a difficult time planning for 2010 is because the failures of 2009 are still fresh. You are frustrated with trying to lose weight, yet in 2009 the only thing you lost was the money to pay for the fad diet books. You may be discouraged because you didn’t spend time with friends and family like you pledged to do this time last year. But let me say this…it’s not 2009 any longer. You can’t continue to focus on the past. The past has come and gone and nothing can change it. You can look at your past as one of two ways: (1) as missed opportunities, failures and disappointments; or (2) as learning points, stepping stones and waymarkers for your future.
There are some things in life that are worth holding onto, they are worth fighting for, and they are worth the getting back up after we fall. So many people are trapped in a prison cell of their own condemnation and despair. Anything in life worth having is worth striving for. What if we simply stopped trying to get back up when we were toddlers learning to walk. I mean, what’s the use? We are only going to fall again. I encouraged my children when they were learning to walk. Now I am encouraging my second in the ceaseless struggle of potty-training, of which there have been numerous failures in 2009. But guess what? I know that he will get it down pat in 2010. We are forgiving and understanding in situations like this, but why not when it comes to our health, weight, relationships, dreams, ambitions and resolutions?
Make up your mind today, you’re not living in the past. Write down the failures of 2009 that are still haunting you and have a little burning ceremony. Place all the paper scraps in a fire, watch them burn to nothing and realize that 2009 is over and it is worth trying again in 2010.
(2) Failure to Specify
Many people fail to hit the target simply because they are aiming at nothing…which is exactly what they are hitting. It is of paramount importance that you are specific with your goals. Don’t simply write “weight loss” as your goal, but determine what your ideal weight goal is, how much you want to lose in 2010, each month, each week and each day. Don’t neglect to write these goals down and read them frequently. This will keep them fresh in your mind. Some goals you may need to reflect on a little each day, others you can review at the beginning of your week.
Simply stating “spend more time with the kids” won’t cut it. Be specific. Outline action steps you can take to meet this goal. You might want to set a date night with your spouse, an outing with your child, or a family game night. Write it in your goals and mark it on your calendar. Does that mean you will always make it, without fail? Probably not. But you are more apt to keep the things that are fresh to you and on your mind.
(3) Failure to Track Progress
This third cause of failure really ties into the second cause of failure of establishing specifics. You must first establish specifics so that you will have items necessary to track for progress. In the best-selling book, Influencer, the comment was made to “Take complex tasks and make them simple; long tasks and make them short; vague tasks and make them specific; and high-stakes tasks and make them risk free.” By doing this we have a better chance of meeting our goals.
Having a tough time cutting back the salt, but you know your blood pressure is getting high? Track your blood pressure each day. Thinking that skipping dessert is impossible, yet your blood sugars are saying you are pre-diabetic, then record your blood sugars each day. The lifestyle choices that you are making can be tracked for success with simple markers. These simple markers can keep you motivated. We all have experienced times when our “will” to carry on is being tried and we aren’t “thinking clearly”. If you have something objective to turn back to it could be the very thing to keep you out of the dessert line and on the treadmill.
(4) Failure to Equip
Kind of hard to learn to speak Spanish just by waking up one morning and eating some tamales. You may need to enroll in some Spanish classes, buy a translating program, and invest some time into study. You may find it difficult to lose that extra twenty pounds by just continuing to do your one sit-up each day (1/2 in the morning when getting up and the other 1/2 when going to bed at night). You may need to get a gym membership, buy some light weights or kettle bells, or signing up with a personal trainer.
The comedian, Brian Regan, presented a hilarious true-to-life assessment of his recent doctor’s office visit. He said that he was going to the office expecting to be told that his cholesterol was a little high. Why did he expect this? Because it was high last time he was in and he hadn’t done anything to change it. He then comically elaborated that it is pretty hard to be hoping for “200” as you are stuffing Burger King coupons in your shirt pocket. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WUU9CqrtFiU)
So sit down and make a list of the things you need to make your dreams a reality.
(5) Failure to Be Realistic
There is nothing wrong with setting realistic goals. We’ve all heard that one bite at a time is how best to eat an elephant. If you are wanting to read more, probably not the best goal to start reading one new book each day…not very realistic. Commiting to more exercise, but you’ve not exercised since sometime in elementary school? Probably don’t commit to running a marathon right away. Now some of those goals are realistic, but the timing isn’t. Don’t be discouraged by the reality of time. I have patients with overt adrenal fatigue and battling chronic diseases for the past decade. I must tell them, and remind them frequently, that change doesn’t happen overnight. In some cases, we will work with a patient for years to reverse a long-standing condition. With realistic goal setting and timing, however, it is possible to stay on track, maintain motivation and experience the rewards of achieving goals.
So there you have it. Nothing profound. Nothing earth-shattering. Just some musings of an individual that has some areas of failure in 2009. But it’s a new year and I will be “trying again in 2010”.
Why don’t you share some ways you’re trying again in 2010. I’m sure it will help others.