New Year, New You. That’s the resounding mantra this time of year. If you’re anything like me, you make a long list of goals you’d like to achieve. We tend to go into the new year with high expectations for change and renewal.
So, why are those gym parking lots almost completely cleared out by February 1st? Why do we ignore our budgets the moment a massive sale comes along? Why do we seem to lose steam so quickly when we started the year with such promise?
Last year, I decided to figure out why I couldn’t make these changes stick. I went into 2016 doing what I normally do. I made a list of changes that I was convinced would fix my problems. I wanted to lose weight because I didn’t think I was pretty enough. I wanted to balance my time because I was always stressed out. I wanted to manage my finances because those credit card bills were starting to give me hives!
Yet, when 2016 was coming to a close, I realized that I hadn’t changed a thing. I noticed a common thread with all of my resolutions – negativity. I failed at almost all of them because my motivation was fueled by self-criticism. It’s like trying to fill your gas tank with water – it won’t get you very far.
This insight changed the way that I went into 2017. At the top of my list, I decided to write “be kind to yourself”. This became the driving force behind my goals and it was incredible the difference that it made. I was able to make some pretty neat changes – food prepping meals to prevent unhealthy decisions; putting away my phone in social gatherings to live in the moment; and setting aside at least 15 minutes each morning of uninterrupted time for my devotions.
When I slipped up, I forgave myself and pushed forward. It helped me to persevere in those moments of weakness when negativity would have caused me to give up. Instead of developing motivation by criticizing myself, I learned from my mistakes and used that wisdom to fuel myself moving forward.
So, reflecting back on this year, I’d say I didn’t do too bad. Did I make some mistakes? Of course. But rather than focusing on the failures, I’ve decided to celebrate the wins instead. I mean, I did resist Girl Scout cookies for a WHOLE week. Never mind the entire box I inhaled at the end of that week. It still counts as a win!
Heading into this new year, the item on the top of my list is still “be kind to yourself”. No matter the challenges that lie ahead, I’m determined to pick myself up and press on.