Moving along the upward spiral requires us to learn, commit and do on increasingly higher planes. We deceive ourselves if we think that any one of these is sufficient. To keep progressing, we must learn, commit, and do—learn, commit, and do again.-Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
It never ends, does it? Just when you’ve left a habit or a way of being in your wake, something else jumps up to bite you in the arse (that’s British for booty). Then you have to begin again because “it’s all over and I suck!”
Wait a second…take a deep breath…hug someone…watch a funny kitten video…
Now that you’ve gotten that out of your system, let’s get back to work. No matter what you’re trying to accomplish, there will be many small and sometimes slow steps, so accept it and don’t expect me to fill the rest of this with cotton-candy clichés about never giving up and never being too old and blah blah blah. Here’s some meat:
Your past does not equal your future (oops, is that cliché?). Then again, if you keep trying the same thing over and over again and fail to recognize it is not working what do you expect? An all-too-common example of this happens every January. You are determined to finally get in shape so you work out every day for a week or, maybe, you keep it up for a few weeks. Then, it happens…you miss a workout or you have the third piece of cake and its wait-til-next-year time again. Why not take one step at a time? If you aren’t currently working out, maybe three 30-minute workouts each week are where you can start. Or, if you want to improve your diet, start by eating breakfast every day or drinking the recommended eight glasses of water a day. One step forward each day will take you to the future you desire.
Refocus on where you want to go, but understand what went wrong. Simply getting up after you’ve tripped is not the point. If you don’t recognize the ineffective patterns in your pursuit of your goal, you will fall again. For example, if you are trying to lose weight, but overeat in the evenings because you are starving after undereating all day, use a mid-afternoon snack of a small handful of nuts to take the edge off of your hunger.
Remove distractions which take you away from your goals. If you want to reduce the stress in your life set limits on how many events you commit to attend each week. Is getting enough sleep a challenge? Remove the tv and computer and phone and tablet from your bedroom. Trying to lose weight? Lose the candy dish in your office.
Healthy alternatives to less-than-ideal choices abound. Call a friend when you’re feeling blue instead of baking. Take a walk after a stressful day rather than pouring a glass of wine. Be honest (but kind) with others about your feelings rather than allowing them to build up until they seep out through negative habits.
Share your goals with supportive, like-minded souls and give and receive the encouragement you need. You might be surprised by how many people are cheering for you!