It’s January 8th and to the best of my estimation, I would guess that about 10,000 resolutions have been broken (sans any real mathematical proof of course).
Gym attendance will likely continue to plummet here on out. Burgers will be had for lunch despite the promise to bring a salad to the office. TV habits involving hours on end in front of the tube will win out over evening spin classes. And why is that? Why is it so easy to make and break promises to ourselves that are created with only our best interests at heart?
I think it’s because we set ourselves up for failure.
We sit down at the end of a year and look back over the last 365 days. We think about everything we didn’t do consistently throughout that time and decide that as soon as a new calendar year starts, we’ll magically be able to commit to doing them without batting an eye (and then some). Really? Do we instantly get the resolve to commit to a list of stuff we couldn’t do beforehand when the clock strikes 12 on New Year’s Eve?
Instead of sticking to our resolutions, we often beat ourselves up for breaking another to-do list full of things that are supposed to make us feel healthier, happier and stronger. The intention is good but we put way too much pressure on ourselves to stick to a strict protocol that we’ve already proven to be difficult to maintain.
Rather than focus on a list of things to do, why not focus on how we want to feel?
Case in point: One of my previous year’s resolutions (I won’t say which year but I will say that I haven’t set resolutions since about – oh – 2005) was to hit the gym 5 days a week. I’m sure we’ve all tried to stick to some variation of this at some point – to work out more, to jog daily, to yoga every morning, etc., etc. Rather than set this specific goal, let’s back up.
Why did I want to hit the gym? What was the feeling that I was chasing?
I wanted to start my days with ease as opposed to dragging my tired butt out of bed after snoozing for 45 minutes. I wanted to be able to hike a couple of flights of stairs without getting winded. I wanted to feel like I could work a full day without hitting the proverbial wall at 3pm.
I wanted to feel more energetic.
I specifically set the goal of hitting the gym because I was feeling sluggish, tired, exhausted and run-down all the time. Being in that state, it’s no wonder that I couldn’t stick to actually going 5 days a week. How did I expect to get myself to the gym 5 days a week when I barely felt the energy to get out of bed and through the day?
Had I approached the goal for what it really was – to feel more energetic – I would have made it easier for myself to succeed. Getting to the gym is one way to get more energy but it’s really difficult to go from 0 – 60 in a matter of seconds (unless you’re some sexy, cute little red sports car of course). So why not start with small things everyday to begin to feel more energetic and build up to doing the gym 5 days a week naturally?
I bet eating a healthy breakfast in the morning would’ve helped me. I would bet my bottom dollar that getting to bed a little earlier would also have done the trick. And as contrary as it might sound at first blush, I could say for sure that slowing down a bit (and not getting stressed out about every little thing) woulda got me closer to my goal.
Making conscious choices throughout the day and doing small things everyday, with the goal of how I wanted to feel in mind as opposed to putting all the pressure in the world on myself to, ‘just get to the gym goddamnit’, woulda no doubt got me closer to gaining more energy. That newly attained energy would have eventually given me the push I needed to get to the gym 2 days a week, then 4 and eventually, 5.
Small steps add up and show ourselves that we’re working on things. They send a clear message to the universe that we want to make a change and are willing to work toward it in a way that’s kind to ourselves.
It’s way more effective and fun to kindly work our way to being the best version of ourselves rather than force ourselves harshly into change and get all down when we don’t flip on a dime. And we’re far more likely to stick to something when we make the change over some time and truly integrate it into our being as opposed to hating ourselves throughout the process. I.e. curse like a sailor every single time I hit the gym and find myself on my couch after 1 week with a box of bon bons and my second glass of Chardonnay watching reruns of The Bachelor while ruefully renouncing my Good Life membership (true story).
So think about how you want to feel. What do you want to feel in your everyday life? In business? In love? And chase those feelings. Make choices every goddamn day to feel those things – truly feel them – and you’ll find that you’ll begin to really understand what it means to be a person who lives true to your passions.
Much love XXX