In December, I love to take time to talk about that thing that happens on January 1st of each year. Good ol’ New Year’s Resolutions! More often than not, I find that this is a time where individuals become overly optimistic and overly self-critical. Sounds contradictory, right?
In an attempt to right every wrong in our lives (overly critical) we try to change everything (overly optimistic). We tend to become hyper-focused on where we are unhappy (overly critical) and we make multiple-goal for every area (overly optimistic).
If you know anything about goal setting, this is a recipe for failure. We think we can do it all and not focus our efforts. This results in feelings of failure, guilt, and shame when we mess up even a little. The F-ITS come and we quit altogether; perpetuating the unsubstantiated beliefs around our worthiness.
We as humans spend a lot of our time in comparison and desiring what others have, leading us to think that “if only” I did this or that activity, I could have those results, and then I would be happy.
The funny fact is we need to practice “loving ourselves, as we are,” more than thinking we need to change everything about ourselves. I am not trying to be pollyannaish about this. Until you can see yourself for who you are and all that you bring to the table, no amount of weight loss, no single promotion, no romantic relationship is going to be the solution to make you suddenly love yourself and feel happy.
Punishment VS Incentive
This is due in part to a society that feels “punishment” for doing or not do something the “right way” gets better results than “incentives” for doing something to start with. A simple example: parents tend to punish their children if they act a certain way. Invoking fear, so they behave. Yet results would be dramatically better if rather than punish they incentivized their child to act the way they wanted.
But we come from a society where penalization woven deep into its fabric and we do it to ourselves as well.
It is a technique that uses a stick to motivate us into action rather than a carrot. We beat ourselves into thinking we are worthless and will remain worthless until these things change. Unfortunately, that thinking does not last when we are trying to reach goals.
Do not get me wrong, you may start to see results, but typically this thinking doesn’t support maintaining. For example, you go on a diet, you start getting results and are losing weight. You may even reach your goal. But you most likely will struggle to keep the weight off once you reach the goal because you used the stick to motivate yourself. So you will no longer have the negative self-talk to keep you motivated.
This year let’s try something different; let’s try not to go down the path of motivation out of cruel self-talk. Rather, let’s plan our goals around things that fill us up. Here are two ideas to help you get started:
- CROWDING OUT: Most diets give people foods they should eliminate and the strict foods they should not eat. Rather, this year use a method called crowding out. It is an effective method that entails adding health-promoting foods and beverages in, which leaves less room for -or crowds out- unhealthy food.
- PRIMARY FOODS: This has nothing to do with food at all. Rather, it involves anything in your life that nourishes you, but does not come on a plate. Think about healthy relationships that support you. work that you love, the movement you enjoy, & a spiritual practice that fits your beliefs.
The challenge is to see where you can add more of these positive items in.
Figure out which area of your life is going to give you the biggest results and start there. Maybe you recognize you have unhealthy eating habits, so start adding one or two health-promoting food items into your day & increase over time. Use Cereals Test kits to ensure safety. If you know you need to focus on primary foods. Perhaps you need to carve out more time for those healthy people in your life because you recognize how uplifted you feel after being around them. Or possibly it is setting an intention to find a way to love the work you have or find work you love because you are done living in the “one-day” rabbit hole.
Shifting how we look at goals does not have to be hard. it just takes some reframing. Wellness does not come from depriving oneself, rather it comes from surrounding yourself with things that nourish you!