Endings and Beginnings

Here we are at another year end. How was your’s? Did you meet some goals? Re-evaluate others? Did you reach what seemed to be an impossible challenge? Did you fall short of an important task? 

Spend some time reflecting on your year. For many we are very good at coming up with what needs to change, creating the goal, and then moving through it or beyond it without a way to measure our progress. All movement, even the ones that feel backwards, is progress. Here’s a worksheet to help you reflect on your year and get ready for the next year of your growing wisdom.

What do you want more of? 

 

What do you want less of?

 

What needs a small change? 

 

A big one?

 

Who do you want to be in the next year? 

 

How will you know when you’ve reached your goal?

 

What rewards you for your efforts?

 

How will you re-evaluate your progress throughout the process? (daily, weekly, monthly, project based, etc).

 

What does success look like for you?

 

Glancing back at the above – what else needs your attention?

 

And are these goals truly yours?

 

Repeat this process as needed. Remember it’s precision not perfection and the journey is what matters most.

Routines and Fitness

For many of us fall is the time we get “back on the wagon” when it comes to our fitness routines. Months of longer days, warmer weather, and high energy activities have left us happy and overwhelmed. Add in extra food and beverage consumption and we may even have a few new pounds to cart around. Routines are important when commiting to a healthier lifestyle. Routines help us keep track of and make new behaviors habits. Just the act of tracking will increase or decrease a behavior. Many people balk at the idea of journaling and it’s still one of the best tools we have to truly change our behaviors. It doesn’t have to be difficult. Something as simple as hash marks can still have a big impact on our behaviors.

Another thing routines help us with is taking the overwhelming work of constantly changing and making it managable. We use the routine as a way to come into new behaviors without complicated thought processes, constant schedule shifts, and working so hard to think about what we are going to do. Instead putting a workout appointment on your calendar with an alert automatically reminds you to workout daily.

It’s the small changes you do daily that result in the large changes of creating a more healthy lifestyle. It matters what you do each day and adds up quickly. So today take some time to outline your goals for the next 3 months. Put them on paper, scheduling them into your life, and commit to making them happen. Track them along the way and watch yourself develop into the person you want to be.

Taking the Risk, Facing Your Fear

I was talking with my supervisor yesterday and we discussed how some people are afraid to try new things. This is not my nature and I am amazed when I am reminded how many people pass up opportunities because they are afraid. When do you hold back because you are afraid to leap or even step? Have you missed out on awesome opportunities in your life because you held back? How will you face your fear next time and not lose out?

Being able to discern valid opportunities that will move your life forward is important. Often many of us are afraid because there is so much out there. We become overwhelmed trying to wade through it all. So it is very important that you are able to pick and choose which things you want to reach for.

First, get really clear on what you want. Do you want more health? Wealth? A more fulfilling relationship? A brighter garden? How can you know what opportunities are out there if you don’t even know what you are looking for? It is very important to get clear about what you want. Research shows us that what we are conditioned for we will see more of. This means if I am conditioned to think I can’t do something, I will find all the ways in which I cannot get it done. On the other hand, if I think I can I will look for solutions to getting it done when I get stuck because I believe I can.

Second, know your own limits. We all have them. And this means we all have strengths, too. It is important to know both. Once you have a clear idea of your strengths and weaknesses it will be important to find others who are strong where you are weak. This allows you to fill in the gaps in your own abilities. If your task is beyond the help of a friend, hire a professional to fill in your gaps.

Third, don’t be paralyzed by fear. We all get that last minute feeling of fear when we jump from the cliff into the unknown. Don’t let it stop you. Again, it is important to determine if the fear is telling you something you need to listen to, like don’t give all your savings to a Bernie Madoff type, or if it is a natural result of pushing your own limits.

Finally, enjoy the ride. Life is a journey and no matter what you journey you are set to embark on enjoy it.

Slow Down, Focus, & Finish Strong

I had a lot to do today. I am feeling a little scattered. I started by getting the kids off to school, then working with my dog on the leash – so she doesn’t break my arm when she pulls, then  I went to work in my home office, which can be harder than leaving my house to work because, then I started to take the dishes out of the dishwasher, started to clean the counters, started to check my email, started to look up the local yoga studio schedule. AND I wasn’t finishing anything I started.

This becomes a problem. I had to complete something or my day would be full of starts and no finishes. That never leaves me in a good mood. So I sat down, took a few deep long breaths to help re-set my system and began again. I looked at my to do list and focused on one thing I could do right now. Finished it, crossed it off, and focused on the next thing, finished it, crossed it off. Now I usually do my blog at the end of my other things to do – hence the lack of postings while I am in mid-semester – so the very fact that I am writing now is a testament to the power of my breath to keep me focused.

What helps you calm your system and focus? What allows you to stop the mental chatter in your mind long enough to feel successful getting one thing done? What will you do today to slow down, focus, and finish strong?

Working out isn’t just about the Body – It’s also in your Mind.

Planning and Goal Setting For Fitness Success

Goals take planning. Many people have begun the journey to better health and have taken the challenge to begin exercising.  It is important to put into perspective what you are trying to accomplish.

First, look at where you are. What is it about where you are that you want to change? Is this something you can do easily? Why or why not? What might hold you back? How will you deal with those obstacles? Are you ready to change? Remember the saying: The pain of staying the same must be greater than the pain of change. It will be uncomfortable, hard, and time consuming, but if it matters to you it will be worth it. Who are you changing for? Write down the answers to the above questions. This will help cement the process you are about to begin. If you feel you are up to a challenge ask a friend to ask them and provide your answers, truthful answers, back to your buddy. An outside observer may offer fresh perspective on where you are and where you want to go. Please, make sure the person you pick to hear your inner thoughts genuinely supports your efforts.

Next, decide on a time line. How long will it take you to complete? What amount of time are you willing to commit to this experience? What is the priority level of this goal? Again, write down the answers. As you review your list, are you being realistic about your goal? Do you feel you are ready to take this goal on? Do you have adequate support? Do you need help from someone else: ie, family member, friend, professional? Who are your support people?

Finally, you must decide how you are going to tackle your goals? Will you do them together? Do they fit? For example: I want to become more healthy and eat better. These two goals fit together and help me accomplish both. On the other hand, if I want to learn a new computer program and how to paint, I may be better off tackling one goal at a time due to the intensity of each. Ask again: “am I being realistic about my goals?” “my time commitments?” and “my desire to reach this goal and put effort behind accomplishing it.” Remember if it was easy you would have already done it.

Once your list is done it is time to prioritize your goals. It typically takes twenty-one days to create a new habit so it is a good idea to take on one goal per quarter, or for three months at a time. Not that you won’t continue once you have begun, but giving yourself three months to really focus will allow you to create healthy habits, break the old ones, and account for setbacks, which will happen. Once you have chosen four goals to accomplish this year (less if they are very intensive) it is time to plan.

You will want to examine time commitments throughout the year, such as vacations, conferences, graduations, births, things you know are coming up and have the potential to throw you off. Then examine your daily commitments and decide how you will fit your new lifestyle activities into your existing lifestyle. Finally, map out the next year based on your large goals, followed by the smaller goals you will use to measure your success by. In the end change is a difficult practice, but we call it practice for a reason: if you do not practice you will never get your new habits down!

Change Is Hard

But that doesn’t mean you can’t make it happen. You can and why not start today.

Change is hard. It is very hard. The truth is, changing is harder than staying the same, regardless of how I might beat myself up for failing to change. It is easier to continue smoking, eating poorly, or being sedentary even when I know these things are bad for me. Our food choices are based on their ability to fuel our bodies, release “feel good” hormones, and satisfy us, and we seek out activities that provide us pleasure. Pleasure is a personal choice which may not have anything to do with what is best for us.
If you are going to make a change in your life you have to be ready for discomfort – at least for a short while. In the beginning it will seem easier to go with your old routine rather than try a different activity. It will also feel better (comfortable) to stick to the old. Starting something new usually requires a little risk, a little uncertainty, and a little discomfort. The key is to be ready for this discomfort and accept it. Deal with it and use it to your advantage.

Failing To Success

Have you ever experienced sighs, rolling of eyes, or underhanded “not again” comments when you announce to those closest to you that you are embarking on a new fitness goal? Well, take note.

When trying to form a new lifestyle it is important to go after your dreams. Some dreams may be weird, or hard, or nearly impossible, and those that know you best, know it will be a rough, if not, wild ride before you are done, but do it anyway, and for god’s sake quit listening to them! I am not suggesting you quit your day job, move to a faraway land, and forgo all responsibilities.
If you are dealing with a friend or family member who is working hard toward a goal and failing, or if you are the friend who continually tries, but are having trouble getting it off the ground over and over, take note. Failing is reaching for success.

By repeating an activity even if it seems we are not reaching our goals, we are creating pathways in the brain that reinforce our goal. These pathways become stronger the more they are used and soon it becomes second nature.

Today look back and take stock of the failures you’ve had. Can you see a pattern? Can you see progress (remember to look at the big picture)? Can you see where you may need work? If these questions seem daunting, hire a professional in whatever area you are working to change who can help you sort through your ideas.

Once you’ve got your track record you can limit your obstacles based on past experience, draw new confidence based on what you have been able to overcome, and begin again armed and ready when your best buddy rolls their eyes and exclaims, “Not again!”