What a privilege it is to be able to have this column published on the very first day of the year! I hate to tell you, though, that I don’t believe in resolutions. If you are looking for motivation, to temporarily use willpower to get started towards a better life for yourself, then you are looking in the wrong place.
The reason I say this is that there is nothing worse than seeing people get all superficially pumped up about positive change and then fail miserably. If you have tried and failed at something before, I don’t want you stuck in the same situation and end up feeling worse about yourself.
I say this after attempting to get my almost two-year old grandson to sleep. He is ringing in the New Year at our house and he was yawning and looking tired after 7:30pm. I was delighted that it was going to be an early night for him, we did our bedtime routine and he fell gently to sleep. As soon as I moved to leave the room, he sat right up.
I adjusted his pillow and teddy bear, we had another snuggle and he went back to sleep. Waiting longer this time, I didn’t move a muscle until I was sure he was out. When I went to get up, he woke up again. Whenever he stays over, it is usually a bit of a process, since he is so curious and doesn’t want to miss a beat. I know, though, that it is necessary to keep at it.
We may go through this cycle a couple more times before he dozes off for the night. What started with enthusiasm to get him down at a decent hour, was soon met with failure. He is having a second round of story time, courtesy of my husband, but it is possible that I will try again and fail. Can you imagine if I just threw up my hands in discouragement and let him stay up all night?
What we know about willpower is that it is short-lived and rarely effective. What is effective; however, is getting to the root issue of what is causing us to be off track in the first place and changing up our perspective. From everything I have gathered and learned over my years of searching for the best tips and tools for progressing, changing and improving, it is our root beliefs that will help us or hinder us.
I have watched, over and over again, how people begin strong. I have seen how efforts to quit smoking, kick an addiction, lose weight, repair unhealthy relationships, pursue a new job, or otherwise, come out of the gate with vigour, energy, excitement and conviction. Why is it; however, that this soon turns to excuses, slip ups, and eventual failure to truly launch?
The only thing that I know for sure is that we must believe in ourselves, care for ourselves, and want our health, our life, our body, our relationships or our situation to change because we are doing it out of self-care, self-nurturing and self-love. This is often the problem.
I have listened to people say awful things about themselves. I have a rule that putting yourself down in front of me is unacceptable. When I hear a man insulting himself, a woman dissing her own body, calling herself stupid, or beating herself up, it is like watching a young, innocent child be scolded, berated or ridiculed. I don’t stand for someone bullying himself or herself for any reason, because that only results in negative and toxic energy.
Negative or toxic energy then creates negative or toxic thoughts, words, behaviours and actions. If we believe we are hideous and unlovable, it is easy to get off track and fall into old patterns because that is what we expect – just another failure.
In order to really make any kind of difference in our lives, we must muster every bit of strength to identify, acknowledge, discover and accept our own gifts, good qualities, positives and things to be grateful for, so that it will be in that space where we make decisions that are healthy and productive.
A woman who embraces her curves, decides to feel sexy, exudes confidence and encourages the development of her own self-value and self-esteem will be more likely to take the action steps necessary to feel and look healthier. She will want to exercise or eat better or engage in habits which will give her more stamina, energy, flexibility, and a desire to truly live life to the fullest, while having fun and trying new things along the way.
Another woman who looks in the mirror and calls herself fat and disgusting will probably end up deep into the freezer or cupboard seeking comfort food, to soothe her self-sabotaging mood.
We are often so focused on results, that we lose hope along the way, because we aren’t getting instant gratification. If we simply focused on the action steps that we need to take, the results will come. Just decide what you will do to keep moving forward; not what will happen after.
There is always a way for us to achieve our goals. We need patience, self-kindness, understanding, a plan, a plan B, a plan C and a plan D. If all of that doesn’t work, keep going until something does. If your goal will bring you to a healthier and more evolved version of yourself, it is worth your on-going effort.
On that note, I am off to entertain my wide-awake toddler as he pulls out the wooden puzzles. Eventually, he will get to sleep. Probably after his recent washroom break, he will be good to head to bed soon. I am certainly not going to give up on him. I believe that we will eventually have success. On a positive note, he picked a good night to stay up late.
Break down your goals into small, action steps and don’t look too far down the road. Just look directly in front of you and believe that you and your goals are worth it. If you don’t believe that you are worth it, or can do it, find someone to support you, who does.
‘Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.’ ~ Martin Luther King Jr.