True Confession: I am a self-help/motivational book junkie.
Oh sure I don't necessarily do what the books tell me to do, but I sure do like to read them. This is especially true at the beginning of the year. I look at the 365 days before me and all their possibility and I get all crazy and think "That's it! This is going to be the year that I become a Yogi, learn Japanese fluently, read the Bible 5 times, share the gospel with anyone who will listen, and write my first novel!"
Then February comes and all my gusto has gone with the coming of those little heart shaped boxes of chocolates. It's at this time that it seems like I get so caught up in the general swing of things that I throw my hands up in disgust and just try to keep up with everything going on.
As I was sitting on my couch nursing Josephine I was thinking about this and how it happens year after year. "Maybe I'm just too overly ambitious. Maybe my goals are just too audacious?"
Then I started thinking about losing weight. Food and I have had a love/love/hate the size of my thighs relationship since I first noticed that boys did not indeed have cooties. When I was in college I managed to gain 50 lbs and was pushing 200 lbs before Jun and I moved down to Tampa in 2003. We were going to get married in 2004 and nothing motivates a girl to lose weight faster than an engagement ring and the prospect of having wedding photos that could possibly look like a "Ripley's Believe it or Not" slide show. I joined Weight Watchers and lost the weight and even though I had a slip up in 2009 where I gained back 25lbs and gained that same amount when I was pregnant with Josephine, I have since lost that weight and kept it to the 155-160 lb range. I'm no Victoria Secret Angel, but I don't have to go to a tent maker for a dress.
So what was different with this aspect of my life that made this possible? How did I keep this goal while all my other goals have gone to the wayside?
As I sat there and thought about it, here is what I came up with:
1. Don't be afraid to do it wrong. - There is a book that I had to read in college called "Bird by Bird" by Anne Lamott. While the book is mostly about writing there are several nuggets of wisdom about life as well. The particular chapter that made me think the most in this book was the one entitled "Sh*tty First Drafts". In this chapter she talks a lot about just writing and not being afraid of how that first draft looks. It doesn't matter, you can fix it later. What does matter is that you get that draft down. Just write. It's the same with goals of any sort. It doesn't matter if you do wrong the first time. If you skip a day of reading the bible, fine just read the next day. If you go overboard with eating today, doesn't mean you have to continue that tomorrow. Just start where ever you are. Don't give up just because you have one crappy day/week/month or whatever!
2. Don't wait for conditions to be perfect, because they never will be! - This is especially true of weight loss. I can't tell you how many times in college I would be like "just as soon as this semester is over and it's not so crazy then I'll get started on weight loss!". It never happens that way. You will always be busy. There will always be emergencies and catastrophes. Just squeeze in whatever you can, which leads me to . . .
3. Do what you can with the time that you have. - If you need to exercise and can't dedicate an hour, do what you can. I remember the only thing I could squeeze in would be taking Jaco for a 15 minute walk but every little bit counts. If you need to write but can't find the time, take a notebook with you where ever you go and write your ideas as they come. Doesn't have to be pretty just write them down so you won't forget them. If you want a cleaner house and don't have a whole day dedicated to cleaning, do what the Flylady says and set your timer for 15 minutes and get as far as you can on one task. All these little things add up.
4. Write down your goals - Oh I can just see you reading that sentence. You roll your eyes and think "Oh no, not another one of those self-actualization nuts!" Listen I used to think it was hokey too, but in Weight Watchers we had these little booklets that had our goal weight and then a chart of our weekly weigh-ins and I found it oddly satisfying to see myself inch closer to that written down goal. Same thing with other aspects. If I want to eliminate a debt, I like to list them and then deduct every little payment from that total until it's gone. Ultimately it's like the old saying says "If you aim at nothing, you'll hit it every time!".
5. Break down big goals into smaller manageable ones! - Another thing I need to get back into the habit of doing is writing down weekly goals that bring me closer to my ultimate goal and I need to be specific. For instance, I want to learn Japanese fluently so my weekly goal could be to listen to my language podcast for 15 minutes three times this week or to learn 5 new vocabulary words. I would also like to get my home more cleaned and organized but that's a pretty vague and far-reaching goal, I need to be more specific like this month I will make sure to clean up the kitchen after every meal so that it becomes a habit. Just think of the big goal and break that into smaller steps, each one bringing you closer to the big goal.
I hope that 2012 brings you closer to your goals whatever they may be and if you have any tips of your own, please share them with us!