by Austin Dixon, L.Ac.
By now we are several weeks into 2014 and those of us who set New Year Resolutions have a pretty good idea about what is working and not working when it comes to that long list of what we are going to do differently this year. Some of us may still feel inspired and invigorated by the New Year and our commitment to its changes, but others of us may already feel defeated. The good news is: each day is a new beginning and a chance to start over. So for all of us in the less inspired group, I have a little insight as to why we may feel this way. We are doing it wrong, plain and simple. We create grand goals and set ourselves up for failure. It’s not because they aren’t achievable, quite the opposite. They are very achievable, but only when we set small, I teeny tiny, baby step size goals that will lead us to our grand new self.
I am sure most of you can figure out how to do this on your own, but if you are anything like me, it helps to hear it from someone else before it sinks in. Here are some common resolutions: more exercise, more sleep, more quality time, less food, less drink, and less Facebook. These seem simple enough when you are writing down all your new 2014 goals, but when you put the pen down and actually have to live out this list the possibility of change seems to disappear. Then we feel defeated. Guilty. Stuck.
Here is the good news: We are all capable of change. All of us (no matter who you are, how much you eat, hate exercise or love Facebook stalking), are capable of change, we just have to start small. For example, if you want to exercise 5 days a week, start with exercising 5 minutes a day for 5 days. Once you have done that increase the time bit by bit until you are working out 5 days a week for an hour. You get it, right? In the beginning you may think exercising 5 minutes a day is not even worth the effort, but if you weren’t exercising at all in 2013 I would say you are doing better.
You can use the 5 minutes a day structure for other things as well. If your resolution was to eliminate your (let’s not call it an addiction) fascination with social networking, try to cut your time by 5 minutes. For goodness sake, don’t try to go cold turkey on picture posting, status reading, and tweets. That is not likely to be achievable in this day and age and you will end up defeated. In an act of rebellion, you may spend twice as much time clicking “like” on pictures of cats and memes of exhausted wine drinking moms! Instead, set a timer for yourself and love the time allotted to connecting to the world via the internet. Keep challenging yourself to cut the time until you are satisfied and feel good about your progress.
When changing your diet start with the same small goals. If you are trying to eliminate sugar, start by cutting the amount you eat. You may think no sugar is the goal, and that is a great goal, but that may be unrealistic depending on your 2013 diet. If you eat chocolate twice a day, try once a day and congratulate yourself when that happens. Eventually you will meet the no sugar goal. Don’t worry.
One more very important thing to remember is that there will be days you fail. Completely fail. You know the day where you stay in PJs, eat chocolate for breakfast and Facebook stalk through lunch? So what. Let it go. The people who are most successful at making changes and meeting goals are the ones who know there will be days they fail. Failing has to exist in order for success. The Yin and Yang. Balance. So get right with the days where the 2013 you shows up, say hello and be grateful for the opportunity to grow and change back into the 2014 you.