100 Days: My New Years Resolutions Revisited
Even before the clock strikes midnight, the list of things that I want to change in the coming year rolls through my mind with a wave of anticipation: eat healthier, lose weight, get fit, spend more time with my family, travel more, take more photos with my big camera, and learn how to de-stress!
I’m very familiar with this list because it’s the same one every. single. year.
Normally (like, for the past 11 years) by the time April rolls around, I have allowed my reality to crash my little self-improvement party. Life steals my momentum and the pain of change begins to outweigh the pain of remaining on the same comfortable (unhealthy) path. Having three kids can thwart even the best intentions and it’s usually not long before I put my mental and physical health at the back of a long, long queue of everything else that needs to be taken care of.
When all I want to do is just get some decent sleep, willpower does not come easily. I burn out - partly from pure exhaustion and partly from being so irritated with myself - and within a blink of an eye things are back to the way they were and I begin counting down to the next new year (when I’ll really make those changes once and for all). That was my story, beginning with the birth of my daughter nearly 12 years ago and repeating year after year after year.
BUT-- hang on folks--2017 feels different.
In the beginning of 2016 I enlisted a Life Coach who has been guiding me in a direction of inner growth. But more than growing per se, I have been learning to understand myself and my own motivations. And not only have I come to understand myself better but I have been able to accept the core of who I am and understand myself in a totally different and accepting way. Knowing myself, and accepting every part of myself, and managing those parts within context has been key to feeling a confidence I haven’t felt for a very long time. And I am really beginning to like what I am seeing in myself. As my Life Coach says—if you would talk to your friends the way you talk to yourself, pretty soon you’re not going to have any friends left. So. True.
In 2017 I am determined to have a different story.
It’s amazing when you have confidence in yourself and in the direction of your life, how much easier it is to make healthy and positive changes. For example: for the past 100 days, I have practised yoga. Every single morning, I rise, (don’t get me wrong—I am at this point still actively fighting with my *sometimes* contrary mind who is telling me to stay in the warm bed), and roll out my yoga mat (observing how new it still looks), switch on my Computer and stream the yoga class for that day. Sitting here, 100 days in, I am delightfully shocked that I have actually made it this far. Even after late or restless nights, I have gathered enough motivation to get up and do it. Let’s try and understand why it's working for me this time.
1. I like myself better than I’ve ever liked myself in my whole life
How does having confidence in yourself and accepting yourself for who you are help you to make positive changes for yourself? Quite simply—us human types will make changes that we feel are “worth it.” If I don’t value myself, and if I put my needs behind everyone else’s, why on earth would I spend time trying to help myself? It might be counter-intuitive, but who would you rather help? Someone who you view with competence and value or someone who you don’t like? The answer is obvious, and is at the root of a nasty pattern of “you first, me last.” Let’s be clear—I haven’t changed as a person, I have just changed my own view of myself. And finally, 2016 was the year where I started to finally get to know me after 35 years. I have decided that I am fundamentally worth improving. On to the next step which is…..
2. I have made small measurable and attainable goals.
Instead of saying, I will get healthy and fit in 2017. I have started off with "I will practise yoga every morning in January." By committing only to January it didn't seem unattainable. I have been able to keep my goals small and manageable. Thanks to Elise Blaha Cripes's Goal Tracker, I can also see the bigger picture of the year. And since starting, I’ve actually found it hard not to keep going. I like to track my daily progress by colouring in those little circles after each yoga session, making each day a small little victory and increasing my motivation to keep going. Towards the end of each month I will reassess what worked, and decide what I want to commit to going into the following month.
Another goal accountability platform that might work for you include the 100 day Goal by Julia Bickerstaff. I heard about this group from the Low Tox Life podcast by Alexx Stuart. I have not used the specific tools from her program as they are more business related, but I have enjoyed her daily emails which have helped with my motivation.
Both have been very motivating for me.
3. I established a daily routine
I am finding completing my goal of practising yoga easier because I have committed to it every day. There are no “off days” which can feel comfortable and there is no way to put off my yoga session to the next day (which I could do if I committed to every other day). I don’t have to make a decision about whether to do yoga, I simply get up and just do it (to use a worn out phrase that really does work). I liken this to brushing my teeth. It’s the same routine, with no excuse for not doing it.
In her book, Better Than Before, one of Gretchen Rubin’s habit manifestos is “What we do every day matters more than what we do once in a while.”
This is so true.
4. I am making myself accountable to others
Another one of my 2017 goals is to get my blog up and running. So much behind the scenes work goes into creating a blog and together with my life coach (who also serves as my editor), we have been focusing on creating as much content as possible. I find it easy to come up with ideas, and my bullet journal is brimming with them. However I find the task of actually sitting down and developing those thoughts into a coherent story very challenging. Sometimes I start out with a paragraph and simply cannot go on. The blank page is so demotivating! It’s at that point where I can easily get into a pretty unhealthy spiral of self-loathing which can lead to negative thoughts about my actual ability to even write and be a successful blogger. There’s nothing like telling yourself how stupid you are to make you close your computer and stop trying altogether.
This is where leveraging my innate tendencies comes in handy. According to Gretchen Rubin and her work with the 4 tendencies, I fit the pattern of an “obliger.” I really hate letting people down (I’ll let myself down before I’ll let others down). Instead of hating myself for that I am now using it to my advantage. I made a pact with my Life Coach that I would send her a blog posts every Wednesday in 2017. We have a weekly deadline. She will then edit and send back her feedback for me so I can continue with the editing until it’s just where I want it. Because I am accountable to her each Wednesday (and do not want to disappoint her!) I am sticking to the schedule and actually getting words down on paper. As she said, just write anything. Don’t worry about the format or the cohesiveness or whether or not I am sounding clever or funny. Just put the thoughts down. And guess what? I’m on track!
5. I am perfectly imperfect
Embracing imperfection has enabled this recovering perfectionist to keep on going. I missed the two first days of 2017 of my yoga practise because I was just exhausted. I needed those two days to recalibrate and focus. I also missed 2 days when I was sick in bed in March. In my previous life those gaps in my chart would have me spend the next week beating myself up for that unforgivable lapse, which would have inevitably led to eventually giving up altogether. Not this year. This year I am focusing on progress. If I fall off the horse, that is ok. Importantly, I will review where I have succeeded and get back up and start again. I will anticipate fits and starts. I will consider that normal. I will look at the big picture. And I will still love myself.
6. I use my limited time wisely
At my current stage of life with two school aged kids and a toddler still at home, I have only two *free* mornings per week (which equates to just under 6 precious hours). With limited time to myself and so much that I would like to focus on I really must pick and choose the activities that I’ll get the most out of. If I were to attend a yoga class outside my home I have calculated that I’d burn 2 hours of my free 6 hours between traveling there and attending the class once per week. Therefore being able to practise at home in front of the computer before the kids get up is a huge motivating factor. I am then able to use my weekly six hours to write, meet with my life coach, do extra exercises at the gym, or simply just take a break to read or relax. Or perhaps I can spoil myself by doing the grocery shopping all on my own! (Bliss!) What I’m trying to say is this: there’s more than one way to achieve your goals. Don’t set up schedules which are destined to fail before they’ve even begun. Work something small into your schedule and make a commitment to do it every day for a short period of time (for example a week, or if you’re brave, a month). If you’re looking to improve your fitness, walk! A 30 minute walk can go a long way in getting your metabolism jump started—and you don’t have to travel all the way to a fitness center to do it. Find hacks and use them! You don’t get extra credit for making heroic efforts. All that counts in the end is what you actually DO.