New Year, New You
New Year New You. That’s pretty much the slogan I am seeing and hearing all over the internet, social media, tv, and radio. Commercials are trying to sell me everything that I don’t need. Here’s an elliptical for New You. Here’s a stainless steel 14 inch frying pan for New You. Here’s little live pets ‘Snuggles My Dream Puppy’ for New You… oh wait you haven’t seen that commercial? Oops, I must be watching too much Doc Mc Stuffins. But you get the point, right?
I’m all for a new year and a new me. There are 100 things I can work on to better myself. But I also know the type of person I am. I almost dread the month of January because I stress myself out about my new year’s resolution(s). It has to be good. It has to be easy.. no wait, it has to be challenging. It has to be doable, but not that doable. What did I give up for Lent last year? Soda? Okay, my new year’s resolution will be no more soda. Wait, I hate soda. I give up!
I know that in the past, I would set an unrealistic goal such as “running a half marathon” or “completing a masters degree.” While there is nothing wrong with those goals, I almost scared myself away right from the beginning with how big and bold and exciting and scary those ideas were to me. Maybe running a half marathon is a breeze for some people. I, however, see an allergist for allergy shots in conjunction with monitoring my asthma. Running… or really even walking fast… can strike up some wheezing. Don’t worry, you can smile now imagining me taking my inhaler and adjusting my glasses. It would be such an amazing challenge to conquer by running a half marathon. But I scared myself away with the sheer idea and complexity of it. Similarly, it is SCARY to think about going back to school. I don’t just mean that school is scary, but the amount of money that school costs is SCARY.
I just fainted. And now I’m back.
I found a helpful article in Psychology Today that explains the right way to approach a goal. Additionally, the article explains why it is sometimes difficult to achieve those tough goals. “We are more likely to be able to achieve goals that are directed towards approaching a desirable outcome (e.g. being more active in daily life to become more fit) than action oriented towards avoiding an undesirable outcome (e.g. losing 20 lbs. to avoid heart disease).” This pretty much means that we are human and we have emotions. If our goal is surrounded by positive reasons, outcomes, and expectations, we can find it easier to approach the necessary steps toward meeting that goal. If negativity surrounds the goal, we are going to feel negative either about the goal itself or maybe the idea of how we want to get to that goal or the fear if we do not meet the goal.
One way I know how to start the process of meeting my goal is to plan out the right steps. I make sure to be detailed and hold myself accountable. However, I also know that I’m literally THE WORST at holding myself accountable. I like to make up excuses as to why I haven’t taken the necessary steps toward my goal or why I might have slacked this week or this month. The article goes into talking about the “ostrich problem,” which sounds self-explanatory when I say: it hypothetically means we are “burying our heads in the sand”. It is explained further: “While information indicating you are off-track can certainty be painful at first, these unpleasant feelings are likely to pail in comparison to the longer-term disappointment resulting from goal failure.” Essentially, we “bury our heads in the sand” to avoid any negative feedback.
“Lauren, where are you going with this?” Well, thanks for asking. January is such a big month – New Year New You. If you want to set goals this January and you really do want to achieve them, then make sure you are doing it the right way to set yourself up for success. Make sure the way you are wording your goal is surrounded by positivity and internalize your feedback to hold yourself accountable and be sure you are on track.
Another thing to think about is to make sure your goal is challenging and also realistic. As I mentioned earlier, I wanted to run a half marathon in 2016. Did I? Absolutely not. Should I try for 2017? Maybe, yes. Now I have the tools to be successful in reaching my goals. But rather than stating that my resolution is to “run a half marathon,” maybe I should rewind it back just a little to state something less SCARY: run a 5k, walk a 5k, or just generally increase my stamina. Those goals sound more fun and more doable. I feel comfortable setting myself the goal of running a 5k – I’ll plan out the days of the week to run. I’ll reschedule any days that I might miss to hold myself accountable and make sure I’m still on-track. I’ll add to my calendar all the steps I’m taking and when they should be achieved so I know I am progressing at the right pace. Planning out the steps to my goal helps me to visualize, specifically, how I am going to achieve it. And it is all up to me to do so. I’m looking forward to a new year and a new me. Are you with me?!