“If you really want something to change in your life, you’ve got to change yourself. If you’re serious about your goals, they can absolutely become reality.”
Lots of us like to make New Year resolutions. Do we always stick to them? No, and that’s okay. I stopped making resolutions years ago when I figured if I really wanted to do something in the year ahead, I simply would. It was so relieving not to set myself a time-limit to stress over.
The idea of a fresh start with a new-and-improved self is not a bad thing by any means. However, It’s easy to get carried away with perfectionism, losing sight of what really matters. We might set ourselves goals full of numbers, exact projections and punishable failures. This will only set yourself up for unnecessary disappointment if things don’t go as planned. Remember, it’s never the entire result that matters in the end, but how well we tried to achieve it.
If you set yourself a goal, and make little effort towards reaching it, you probably won’t succeed, and so you shouldn’t feel upset for it. In the same breath, if you’re over-achieving and placing your self esteem into this one concept, you’ll lose everything if you fail. Either one of these approaches are extremely unhealthy. One is nipped in the bud before it has even begun, due to laziness. The other will smother you with it’s over-bearing nature and crushing pressure. Like a fire that burns too hot too quickly.
In every case, you must have balance. You’ve got to have some real down-to-earth internal dialogue before putting pen to paper and making it official. Knowing yourself and being honest with yourself is the first step to establishing what can be done. Often, we shove our feelings to the back of our minds, project fake ones onto centre stage, lie to others and ourselves about what’s really going on, and somewhere in the midst of all this we lose ourselves. If you make a goal and you’re not dealing with the real you, then that’s an issue. The method I find that works best is what I call “bite-sized pieces.”
Example: “I want to lose 10 kilos before my Birthday in March.”
What it should be: “I’m going to make efforts to incorporate healthier eating habits and some form of exercise into my daily life.”
What this does: The first resolution was a number-oriented set-goal with a concrete time-limit. The second resolution was a conscious decision to take steps towards a healthier lifestyle, which of course, could result in weight-loss.
The first resolution gave a deadline, which puts the brain into stress-mode. This can give you intense bursts of motivation fuelled with adrenaline, but this euphoric determination usually only lasts short-term. Most people will find that after a couple of weeks, the motivation dies down, or they burn out, and then fall back into old habits. In the case of weight-loss for instance, the focus should be on a healthier lifestyle in general, not just a lower number appearing when you stand on the scales.
There’s always a reason behind our behaviours, and it’s important to think on that. How come you became overweight to begin with? Or maybe you’re not overweight at all, but you just want to be skinnier, or more athletic… More often than not, there are emotional reasons behind weight issues that dieting isn’t going to fix. This is where the importance of that internal-dialogue comes in. You need to do a little digging around and get down to the roots of what’s going on. Most importantly, you need to understand that perfection is just an illusion, and nobody will ever reach it. You have to go easy on yourself and accept yourself before you can change yourself. By following your goals in bite-sized pieces, you’re allowing things to fall into place at a healthy pace. Completely changing your routine overnight is inconvenient and shocking for the body, change one thing at a time and let yourself get used to it before adding something else into the mix.
Keep a book
It’s a very good idea to keep a journal during this transition stage. Whatever the transition may be, because in every case it will be a lifestyle change that you are making. Even if your New Years resolutions are something simple like learning to cook or visiting family more often, something’s got to give in order for that to happen, and it’s always going to be your mentality. By keeping a daily record of your activities, feelings and plans for the days ahead, you can help organise your thoughts and reflect back on your progress as time goes on. Putting pen to paper is therapeutic in itself, and by writing things down, there is less need store everything in the fore-front of your memory. If you’re not keen recording things that happen, you could instead jot down some of the positive thoughts or favourite sayings that you come across throughout the day.
I was never keen on keeping a journal myself, I always thought it a bit silly and what would I write about in any case? My life is boring. I thought it almost embarrassing, and pointless. However, I knew that it would help me, regardless of my reservations. What’s the worst that could come out of it anyhow? I asked myself. That I end up a bit more organised than before? Wow. What a loss. (detect the sarcasm.) So of course, I have to practice what I preach, and I now have a journal / planner / scrapbook all-in-one type notebook thingy. It’s pretty nifty actually.
I didn’t know what to write in it to begin with, so I used it primarily as a daily planner (even though I have an app for that.) After a couple of weeks, I decided to write one sentence at the end of everyday in 4 lines.
Sentence 1 – was a briefing of what I did that day.
Sentence 2 – was my favourite part of the day.
Sentence 3 – was how I felt.
Sentence 4 – was things to remember for tomorrow (often very mundane, but hey that’s life.)
I found my mind becoming less cluttered, and it became easier to compartmentalise my feelings as I was writing them down. I would then refer back to a week ago, and read what I felt on that day. I noticed how different that day was from now. It gave me hope that the worst of situations can change for the better, and you just never know what’s going to happen, or how things are going to affect you. I like my simplistic approach to journaling, especially since I write a whole lot for a living, I didn’t then want to do so in my down-time.
I succeeded in keeping a journal because I took it in bite-sized pieces. I’ve documented my bad days and good days, let out the feelings that I used to keep secret and stayed on a steady track towards the goals that used to only live in the fantasy portion of my brain.
My resolutions going into 2016 read as such:
- I’m going to laugh more, because I’m taking things lightly, and laughter is good for me.
- I’m going to show understanding towards my partner, because he’s human too.
- I’m going to feel good about myself, because I’m worthy.
- I’m going to take a step back from the mirror, because I’ve been looking too closely.
- I’m going to find ways to channel my energy, so I don’t erupt in bursts of anger and frustration.
- I’m going to let myself off the hook, and be my own best friend.
I hope that your resolutions for the New Year steer you towards a healthier, more fulfilling way of life. I hope that whatever they may be, you do them for the right reasons and above all else I wish you health, happiness and prosperity for the year ahead.
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