Sunday, April 27, 2014

2014 Goals and Resolutions Update, Part 4: Where I Go From Here

Now that I have assessed how I’m doing with my 2014 goals and resolutions, and now that I’ve got all of my Life Books in order, where do I go from here? 

It’s not enough to have all of the systems in place—I also have to use them to my benefit.  I have to be accountable for the goals I’ve set and how I succeed or not.  Otherwise, what’s the point of it all?

I have made excuses as to why I have not succeeded with my goals.  I could say that those excuses still exist, but the truth is, no matter what system(s) is (are) in place, no matter what else happens in my life, *I* am the only one who can make (or break) my goals and resolutions.

After taking a good hard look at where I stand with my goals, and after updating my resources, I can say that it will be easy for me to start again and move forward.  But the truth is that it won’t be any easier than it was during the past four months.  Each day I will wake up, and each day I will have to choose to follow through with these goals.  The reality is that each and every item on my list won’t be automatic or routine for quite some time.  And it is the time between now and when they become automatic and routine that I will struggle with the most.  Sometimes, just getting started is the hardest thing of all.

Of course, all I can do is my best.  If I don’t succeed at these items every day, I can hope that I will succeed at them most days, and I have to be okay with that; I have to forgive myself for that; I have to allow for that because allowing for that will take some of the pressure off, and maybe—just maybe—allow me to achieve more of my goals rather than not getting close to most of them.  I need to stop looking at everything as a whole, as simply black and white, and be okay with a breakdown of items and allow for shades of gray.

I have kept track of many of my goals in my planner along the way.  For example, I write down what exercise activity I want to accomplish each day (one of the most difficult things for me to accomplish in a day), just as if it were an appointment.  But for some reason, I allow myself to overlook that one entry more easily than I allow myself to overlook any other entry.  A task or an appointment almost always gets accomplished.  If I don’t get to a task, I move it to a different day, but I always feel bad about not getting to it.  So why does this not happen when I can’t “get to” exercise? 

The answer is that I don’t make a priority the way I do other things.  I may write down a lot of things I want to accomplish in a day, knowing full well that not everything will get done.  But I put it down so that I don’t forget how important it is to me.  I write down exercise because I feel like it should be important to me.  But the truth is, it must not be, otherwise I’d accomplish it more often than I do.  But it’s not that I don’t want to get to it.  I just feel like it’s not as important as other things, even though I know it’s of the utmost importance.  I guess it falls by the wayside because I don’t see results as quickly as I do with other things.  I can see results of a completed task list by seeing how many items I’ve crossed off—it’s tangible.  And while exercise is tangible also, it takes a lot longer to get to those results, and the fact is I’m impatient.  (And if I’m brutally honest, I’d say that a part of me doesn’t feel like I deserve to look and feel good, but that’s another story for another day.)

So I have to change my way of thinking.

In the example of exercise, it shouldn’t be about the end result but about the journey, about how it makes me feel each and every day.  Is this not why I started a daily gratitude list?  There won’t be “tangible results” at the end.  Yes, I might be more aware of all that I have in my life, but the result should be being thankful for each and every day and all that the day presents to me, not what I can show for it.

So while crossing items off of a to do list feels really great, my focus shouldn’t be about how many crossed off items there are, but rather the accomplishment I feel at having crossed off any item.  And this is where the exercise example comes in—I should feel good that I did a form of exercise each day, not feel disgruntled that I didn’t lose a certain amount of weight by a certain amount of time.  And while writing down an exercise for any given day is a good way to start, a good way to show my intension, it means absolutely nothing unless I’ve accomplished some part of that exercise.

In essence, setting any goal or resolution means nothing unless I’m willing to put forth 110% of myself in trying to accomplish them.  I might not accomplish them by a certain date or to the degree that I would have wanted to from the get-go, but so long as I’ve tried, well that should account for something.  The fact that I tried at all should be the point because it’s only the in the trying that will allow me to succeed.

The honest truth is that I’ve barely been trying.  I have turned to every excuse in the book as to why I haven’t.  But the reality is that I’ve just been lazy and have had a bad attitude about it all (this goes back to feeling like I don’t deserve the things I want for myself). 

“The road to hell is paved with good intensions” and all that.

It’s time I put aside the intensions and just get down to the doing, to the trying.

Here’s to going forward.

4 comments:

  1. I've been thinking about this a lot; to some degree, I think that we sometimes drive ourselves too hard, expecting too much. On the other hand, I do think it is important to address things which are bad for you, or wasting your time; and important to pursue changes to bring about better quality of life.

    Years ago, I quit smoking. I was the quintessential smoker, I loved it, I smoked all the time, I never went a day without smoking at least half a pack of cigarettes. I knew I needed to stop. I didn't really want to. I eventually did stop. I knew it was worthwhile, and I was able to motivate myself through positive reinforcement in the form of small rewards on a regular basis. Plus re-affirming to myself every day that I was going to remain smoke free for this day.

    Perhaps similar motivational tools could be put to use on more benign changes like daily exercise? Maybe link something you love to indulge in (Starbucks?!) to successful exercise?

    I think that quitting smoking, for me, was proof that I have real power over my own life; I can make positive change. Truth be told, I still think about smoking quite a lot and miss it terribly. But 8 years later I am still totally smoke free. That change led to tons of other changes in my life and I demonstrate to myself daily that I have power to lift myself up, turn around bad habits, form good habits, and focus myself on the important stuff in my life. But it is never easy!

    Best of luck!

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    1. Josh, I think you hit the nail on the head here -- I do expect too much of myself more ofte than not. In some cases, I know going in that I won't accomplish everything, and I'm okay with that. Other times I disgruntled by how much doesn't get done. Either way, I have to prioritze my list, and maybe putting myself (exerise) before my tasks is the only way.

      The other part of that is that in this case, I don't LIKE to exercise indoors. So when the weather is bad and it's cold and dark, it's just too easy for me to not do it. Now that the weather is nicer I can get out of doors and hopefully accomplish more in this area. And 9 times out of 10, I do okay once I start. It's the getting going that can trip me up.

      I do plan on rewards for myself -- new clothes, etc -- but often it is something that I end up getting myself anyway, regardless of an accomplishments, or it's not something I REALLY want and so don't miss it when I don't get it. Starbucks as a reward though, I'm not sure I could do it. I'm not strict enough with myself and I'm very weak when it comes to coffee. I have never been a smoker, so I can't truly speak towards that, but if I had to choose something I'm addicted to, it would be coffee. I don't know that I could ever give it up. They way you describe missing smoking is how I feel towards quitting coffee, and I haven't even done it. Good for you for not only quitting but for sticking by that choice every day! That is some strength!

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  2. I wonder if, as an organiser, you might find using a Garmin Vìvofit or Fitbit helpful. I have used both and find the Vìvofit's red bar system very good for making sure you are not sitting for too long and both track footfalls. The Fitbit recording interface is fun to use and better, I think, for helping with eating more healthily. I hadn't thought about a mid-term assessment of my goals although I do have an Evernote 'Stack' for setting goals every quarter as well as daily rituals etc that I picked up from another blogger. Thank you for this series of posts which I have thoroughly enjoyed and I am now feeling inspired to use lots of the ideas here.

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    1. Hi Teresa, thanks for your comment. I have actually thought about looking into a Fitbit, but just have never gotten to it. I did use a pedometer for a while, and that really helped to keep me moving. Maybe I should dig that back out and finally look into the Fitbit.

      When I did my original goals for the year, I had written down that I wanted to post an update, but after seeing that I hand't made much progress, I probably would have let it go if not for Josh's accountability video. I thought that would be a good way to get me back on track and update my progress (or lack thereof).

      I'm so glad you have found some of my ideas useful!

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