There is so much focus this time of year on setting new goals and on making resolutions. And while I love the “new year, new me” perspective, there are some important pre-requisites that so many of us are forgetting. Setting goals that are health and fitness related are entire lifestyle changes. Starting a business, taking your kids on a dream vacation, or simply reorganizing the basement, all require more than just calling your shot and crossing your fingers.
Setting any goal, no matter the size, requires thought, planning, and a way to measure your progress. But, prior to these steps, you must also be in the proper mental state to set and actually carry-out your goal. Your mindset is a key factor that plays a huge role in determining whether you succeed or fail. So, before you get all crazy making vision boards and writing your goals down in your dream book, let’s make sure you have a solid foundation on which to stand. (Mommies: this is especially important for you, not only because you are busy and these steps are easy to skip, but because you have little people absorbing your every thought, word, and action). Let’s get started.
Put Yourself ‘Up’
You are oftentimes your own worst enemy. No one is quicker to second guess you, than you. And it’s easy to be hard on yourself for not getting ‘X’ number of things accomplished from your to-do list. Or to not have spent enough time with your kids. Or to not have made it to the gym for the fifth day (err…week) in a row. After what was actually a very productive day, you go to bed feeling defeated. Putting yourself down and beating yourself up are detrimental to your mental state and ultimately to your health. Stop beating yourself up over every little thing that doesn’t go as planned. Life is a journey full of unexpected surprises, and the sooner you learn to put yourself ‘up’ and to speak life into your mind and body, the faster you will be on track to accomplish your goals. One thing is certain, beating yourself up over every misstep is a surefire way to fail.
There are countless ways to practice self-affirmation. Take a cue from little Jessica here and start each day with a positive mindset.
You Can Do It (If You Want To)
Stop saying ‘I can’t’ when actually, you can. Now, whether or not you choose to, is another story. It’s perfectly ok to not want to do something, but recognize the difference between "do not want to” and “can not.” Saying the words ‘can not’ reinforces to your brain that you are unable to do something. How in the heck do you expect to conquer your goals when you are silently telling yourself that it is impossible? Your brain hears the message continually and finally says, yep, got it… I cannot cook. You will never accomplish your goals, large or small, when you set yourself up for failure by saying “I can’t.” Take for example, my five-year-old son. When we leave the gym everyday he shoots my towel into the laundry basket like a basketball. Some days he is full of energy and is completely motivated to make it on the first try… and he does. Other days, he is in one of his moods and stumbles around saying he can’t do it. And sure as shit, he misses it every time.
Instead of saying “I can’t,” state the real reason you are not doing a task (i.e. I’m not going to the gym because I am placing Facebook stalking at a higher priority than bettering my health). Reprogram your mind to think differently so that you are actually stating facts to yourself, rather than notions you believe to be true. More to come later on beating bogus excuses, but for now, let’s start with “I can and I will.”
Plan For Success
Imagine taking your little prince(ss) on a Disney vacation on a whim. No planning, no advance notice, just hopping right on the plane and leaving. What happens about ten minutes into the trip? Well, for starters, you will realize you are the most unpopular mommy on the plane, as your little one cries incessantly because you forgot their teddy, you brought no snacks, and you didn't plan any form of entertainment for the three hour flight. Upon arriving in the sunshine state, you realize you forgot to purchase advance tickets and the theme park is sold out…for the entire weekend. And to make matters worse, you left your AmEx at home and can only spring for the Budget Inn (way) down the street. Happy freakin' vacation.
Failing to plan is literally planning to fail. A majority (like 99%) of tasks require some level of planning in order to create a successful outcome. So, whether your goal is to simply clean out the garage, or to completely transform your diet, do NOT skip the planning stage. Think of it like planning a birthday party: What, Where, Why, When, How. Start a Pinterest board (seriously) and gather motivation, inspiration, ideas, and helpful tips. Better yet, save yourself some time and find an expert’s Pinterest board to follow. Then make a to-do list, create a timeline, and attack like an angry Queen Elsa on an icy afternoon. (If you don’t know who Queen Elsa is, you likely have no kids, nieces, grandkids, or neighbor kids. Regardless, just put your Toms to the pavement and get after it).
Choose Happiness. Always.
Very few things in life render you choiceless. From the moment you wake up, you have the choice of what to wear, what to eat, whether or not to go to work, and with what attitude to face the day. Have you ever noticed that when you wake up on the “wrong-side” of the bed and adopt a shitty attitude by 7AM, that everything seems to go wrong from there on out? Like you will seriously find every rogue Lego piece to step on, your hair will look worse than Carrot Top’s permed mess, and you will face the world with the same tenacity as someone who had their cheerios peed in that morning. It’s not a good look. And it certainly isn’t conducive to goal achievement.
Everyone has a bad day from time to time, but if you find yourself constantly having a case of the Mondays, try looking inside yourself for the answer. You get to choose whether or not to be happy each day; the operative word here being choice. And choosing to be happy means looking for the opportunity in every situation rather than trying to find the flaws. It means focusing on the positive and letting the negative go. And it absolutely makes you more fun to be around. Choosing happiness means choosing to actually enjoy your life; what a profound thought. And if you choose to look for the good in all situations, chances are you are you will also choose to find the solutions to your problems rather than finding more problems. Achieving your goals requires more mental toughness than it does physical. Choose happiness, every damn time.
Put Yourself First
No one is guiltier of consistently breaking this rule, than mothers. Mothers unknowingly put their children first, nearly every single time. And while this altruistic character trait is something to be admired, it should be used sparingly. Yes, moms, even you need to learn to manage this better. Take for example, a mother who has a full time job and is a freelance writer on the side (writing is actually her dream job). She puts her children first day-in and day-out, tirelessly attending to their every need, and falling into bed exhausted every single night, without even an ounce of strength left to devote to her passion. While she loves her family, she is resentful, and a little bitter, that she no longer gets to spend any time focusing on what she loves.
Getting any mother to admit to the above scenario is damn near impossible, because no mom wants to believe that she could ever be resentful of having to constantly put her children first, but this is a very real thing. And it isn’t isolated to just mothers. Imagine a busy working woman who is completely absorbed into a career she doesn’t love, or a middle-aged woman who now spends her time taking care of her elder mother and has no time to enjoy her own interests. In any scenario, taking the time out of your day to do what you love is vitally important to maintaining life balance. Being selfless is admirable, but give yourself permission to be selfish when necessary. No one can achieve your goals but you, so put yourself first from time to time.
Once you have a solid foundation on which to stand and build your goals, then it is time to actually put the pencil to the paper and begin writing them down (yes, you should actually write them somewhere). Written words are so much more powerful than just floating thoughts. And if at any point during the process you feel like you are losing your footing, come back to the basics.
You achieve your goals by hard work, dedication, and doing what sets your soul on fire. Best of luck to you in the New Year!