Each year you promise yourself that you will do this, and you won’t do that. Then most of us stop. And if you stop, you feel guilty and beat yourself up for not sticking to it. And the cycle begins again.
Let me share with you a quick story… Two years ago one of our patients Julie came to see me mid-January and said: “This year my resolution is that by new years eve I’ll finally be able to set a resolution that’s NOT to lose weight!” I asked her why she didn’t make a different resolution this year, and Angela said it was because she really, badly needed to lose 2-3 stone first. “How long have you been setting this resolution for?” I asked, “About 10 years” she said, “I won’t be happy until I lose 2-3 stone, so I’ve really got to stick to it this year.” Does this kind of resolution sound familiar to you too? Many of us think getting motivated to reach a goal requires tough-love and setting things we think we should do to fit in to be ‘accepted’, and they usually come from a place of feeling shame or not feeling ‘good enough’. And it’s not your fault if you do!
Fitness and fat-loss are advertised in our faces everywhere. Despite the fact that these kind of goals have the opposite effect on motivation than we hope, most people continue to set them, and get frustrated when their resolutions have gone out the window come January 8th.
By the time Angela walked into my clinic that day, she had 10 odd years of heavy guilt and shame weighing down her goal to lose weight. So I flat out told her she was going to find it hard to reach that goal again if she kept the same goal and suggested she make her goal forgiveness for not losing it yet. “That’s all you want me to do?!” she asked looking confused. “Yes! That’s all!” Why? Because year after year when you have the same goal and don’t reach it, each year it becomes harder to believe you’ll ever accomplish it, and each year you feel worse that it goes unaccomplished.
So here’s my big tip for you this year when it comes to your resolutions: How about we make a pact to be kinder to ourselves instead of setting out on a mission to improve ourselves with goals that if we stumble on and fall over, we beat ourselves up over. If you find yourself slipping off track with the goals you’ve set – forgive yourself. You haven’t failed just because it’s mid-January and you’ve already stopped.
You can get back on track and pick yourself up. Of course it’s easier said than done. Being kind to yourself is a difficult thing to do. But while it might take a lot more self-reflection than counting calories and drinking green juices, giving yourself endless chances is the path to successful goal setting in any area of your life.
So have a plan, set mini goals to achieve your overall goal. Celebrate the achievements you make along the way and know it’s ok to slip up, you’re human, I slip up all the time! All you’ll be far more likely to stick to the healthier habits you’ve set yourself this year.