How To Ditch The Resolutions And Attain Lasting Results

Stretching-beach-sizedIt’s that time of year again.

Is your fridge still stuffed with healthy veggies and your gym clothes laid out at the ready? Or have you slipped back into nightly visits to the cookie cupboard?

Yes, that shiny patina of a new year is quickly losing its gloss.

For years I was a dedicated attendee of the 6 a.m. Spin Class at our local gym. (I know, I know – what happened??) There were a limited number of bikes and, since the class was sparsely populated at that ungodly hour, usually I had no problem securing my favorite one

That is until January 2nd.

Suddenly us regulars would have to show up 10 or 15 minutes early just to get a bike! The New Year’s Resolutionists were out in full force!

Then within 10 days the ranks would begin to thin. By mid-January I was back on my favorite bike.

The point being:  it takes more than a resolution to change your life!

I gave up on New Year’s Resolutions long ago. It became obvious to me that my wild undisciplined self would grab the reins of my life before January even ran its course – so, why bother?

Why is it that we set the bar so high for ourselves that we’re destined to break our own promises? And why are we convinced that we have to be ‘fixed’ or changed in some way in order to be happy?

Not that there’s anything wrong with setting goals. It’s that tendency to berate myself when I fail to meet them that I’ve got a gripe with.

Recently I read that you’ve done a good job with setting goals if you meet 80 percent of them. That means you’ve challenged yourself sufficiently without setting them so high that you end up writhing on the ground in a fit of self-flagellation and despair.

Call me slow, but it was news to me that it could be okay to fall short of 100 percent of your goals. You mean, I’m not the world’s biggest loser if I don’t mean all of them? What a freeing concept!

What IS Working?

It’s all too easy to brush off our wins and accomplishments because our eyes are so fixed on some unattainable prize. We keep moving the goal further and further out… and that’s normal and healthy. And it’s even healthier to celebrate the benchmarks we’ve passed.

It’s like gratitude. When you focus on the wins, the successes, what HAS worked, you send positive anti-stress hormones coursing through your system – which set you up for more success and motivation to take action that moves you even closer to your (moving target) goals!

Give it a try. Write down three wins from the last year. They can be as tiny as the fact that you only ate one chocolate chip cookie last night instead of three – on up to finally standing up to your overbearing boss.

Once you’ve written them down, sit with it for a minute. Take a couple of deep breaths and lean into that feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment!

Yay! Those good hormones are running around in you right now!

But what if you really do want to make some big shifts?

Here’s the good news:  Shift Happens. Always.

You, even you, can break through and finally lose that weight, ditch that crappy job, find that special friend, quit that destructive habit, become a pilot, or [fill in your own huge aspiration that you’re worried you’ll never accomplish].

The timing doesn’t matter. Sure, birthdays and new years are auspicious and fun times to start new programs. But don’t wait for them. Start now.

However.

There’s a few itty-bitty obstacles to get out of the way.

But you guessed that, right? If they weren’t there,  you’d be giving your Oscar speech right about now.

And those obstacles aren’t big old road barriers that some nasty person or outside entity threw up in your path.

It’s not your mother-in-law, or that mean teacher in second grade, or even the government.

No. It’s our own brilliant minds that have painstakingly set up these road blocks.

So how to we dismantle them?

We’ll just get the hardest bit out of the way right now. If you can do this one thing, well then you’re golden. You’ve already set the wheels in motion to achieving your “best self” goals.

Start accepting what’s going on right now

‘Wait a minute,’ you might be saying, ‘what the EFF?  I want to be thinner – not accept my saggy, flabby body.’ Or, ‘I want to get healthy, I refuse to accept my current crappy energy level.’

And I so get that. I know this is counter-intuitive. But that very state of unconditional acceptance is the only way to quit putting your own leg out to trip yourself on you path.

I mean if you think you’re a steaming pile of dog doo for looking or feeling the way you do, where can you find the strength – and the love – to sustain your efforts when the going gets rough?

Did I mention this acceptance stuff is the hardest of all the steps to Shift Success?

And, it’s one you will return to again and again. It’s bizarre, but just when you think you’ve discovered true self acceptance, another layer reveals itself. And you’ll find yourself saying, ‘well, I accept myself, just not THAT!’

Like, you have to accept the fact that you don’t want to accept yourself. It can feel like you’ve wandered into an Escher painting or something.

Except this seemingly endless spiral will lead you to a brighter place. It lays the groundwork. It puts down the roots so you can truly live into your health (or any other) goals and aspirations.

I’m not gonna lie. This self acceptance stuff is hard. It’s takes practice. I forget all the time. But like anything, the more I practice the easier it becomes to catch myself out. To remember. To begin again.

So how about it? Is it possible for you?

What can you do today to move just a millimeter toward accepting your present state?

I’d love to hear about it in the comments below – or over on Facebook.

Next time I’ll share the rest of my plan for knocking down those self-imposed road blocks once and for all. Forget the resolutions. This is a Revolution!

 

 

 

 

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4 Responses to How To Ditch The Resolutions And Attain Lasting Results

  1. Great post as always Sarah! And perfect timing too! Having been down with some kind of flu since the new year, self acceptance during this time of year is crucial. Not easy, but essential to put one slow foot in front of the other. Even a short walk outdoors was a big accomplishment for me this week. Now I am feeling better and plan to increase my walks and my work again. Last night I made a list of my “Hot Tracks” things I am inspired to do next, and a second column of things to “complete”, things I had started, but need to finish. I had a third column to fill and I decided that would be things that bring “balance” into my life, family, nature, dance, things that bring me joy and ease. The anticipation of all this can feel overwhelming, but it feels good to get it on paper, and then step back and ease into it gently. Thanks so much for your inspiration!!!

    • Ah yes, one of the most challenging times to really feel self-acceptance is when we feel like crud! I’m going through something similar with my back pain right now. Every time I get that twinge of sharp pain I immediately jump to resistance and ‘fix-it fast’ mode. But I’m starting to ask myself ‘what if…?” What if it was okay to just observe the pain without jumping into ‘why’s’ and ‘how can it be fixed’. What if I can accept where I am right now?

      I love that you’re listing your ‘hot tracks’! I find it always get’s the inspiration bubbling. And ‘easing into it gently’… YES! Thank YOU for your beautiful comment Alisa!

  2. The more I’m finally accepting that I can’t keep doing everything at the pace I’ve been going most of my life, the more at peace I’m becoming with what I can do. With perimenopause starting about a year ago, my adrenals can’t keep up and are letting me know all too often. I’m realizing that I can accomplish things in different ways that I had envisioned early and that I’m doing enough right now vs. a lifetime of thinking that I’m never doing enough.

    I’ve given up on setting goals that I get depressed about later. Looking at what makes me a little happier each day is what I focus on. And that usually happens with daily habits. I look at an outcome that I’m living with that I’m not happy about and go back to my habit that creates that thing I don’t want. I uncover the trigger and reward related to the habit and find a habit with the same trigger and reward that leads to an outcome I do want – one that brings more happiness. Then I reinforce the new habit. It doesn’t always work perfectly but it’s more like solving a puzzle (which is fun) instead of feeling like I’m failing.

    I completely agree with you that acceptance is challenging but gets easier with practice.

    • Wow Paige – what a beautiful nugget of wisdom you have shared! So simple and yet so profound. It’s like going on a little treasure hunt or search backward. From undesired outcome – to the habit that might be creating it – to the trigger and reward. And then come up with a new habit that could create a more desired outcome with the SAME trigger and reward. So elegantly simple!
      I would only add that I think it’s also important to go back to the thought that might be triggering the less desired habitual behavior and do some curious and nonjudgemental observing and then dissolving of the thought.

      I’m so glad you’re finding more peace with where your body is at right now, and (at least sometimes) finding acceptance that you are exactly where you are supposed to be right now!
      It’s an ever-continuing journey, isn’t it?

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