By Darlene Calderone
Imagine…. December is nearing its end. Most of us are thinking about that fresh start. What we want to accomplish in the coming year - whether or not you want to call that a resolution is up to you.
Think of a goal that’s important to you. One that would change your life for the better. How do you feel about it? Are you excited? Do you feel resistance around it? Does it scare you a little? Are you thinking … “this year is going to be different”....
Some people find a burst of motivation and excitement as January 1 rolls in. With a fresh start, it’s full steam ahead and we give it everything we got.
Then life happens. Real life trickles in. Reality sets in. It becomes harder. Challenges become too challenging. We can’t keep up. Vacation is over, work starts piling up. You have other deadlines to worry about. Add everything else going on in your day to day life, it’s just easier to ignore your own goals for now.
By February, the excitement you felt just a few weeks prior has subsided, and we’re ready to try again on Monday.
When that doesn’t work, we try again the next Monday. Then the next month.
And this same cycle continues, over and over. Soon it’s December again. No wonder some of us don’t love resolutions.
You know what you’ve gotten good at? Starting over. What a great skill.
Don’t worry, it has it’s benefits. The clean slate feeling can feel pretty good. It gives us a moment to let go, forgive, and sparks a burst of motivation. We can use this skill to help build upon new skills, new habits, new routines. But first, we have to be a little more realistic and consistent in our behaviours and expectations on what those habits, skills, and routines are, how they fit into our current life as it changes, and figure out why you’re doing (or not doing) them at all.
This is a story we tell ourselves. That we can always skip *insert important habit that helps us towards a bigger goal* start again on Monday.
Have you ever considered that this story is part of a bigger, life altering set of stories that deeply impacts how, when and if you’ll see progress, reach, or maintain your goal? It also impacts how easily we are able to set realistic and achievable goals.
The stories we tell ourselves about ourselves are important.
It’s normal to think you have a long way to go. It takes time for the mind and body to change.
The stories we tell ourselves about what kind of person we are impact how you’re going to experience that shift and change.
Have you ever thought to yourself:
“I know what to do, but I won’t succeed until *insert problem / skill / excuse* ”
“I’ll never reach my goal because I can’t start/stop *insert anything here*.”
“Why even bother trying because last time I did I *insert perceived failure here* “
We’re constantly telling ourselves stories all the time about what we can or can’t do. About who we are, and who we’re destined to be. Our Future Selves. What we are or aren’t capable of. This impacts how we act, react, plan, communicate, and more. These are your life scripts.
It’s safe to say that self-talk impacts goal setting, and how realistic we are with them. Evaluating our self talk, and scripts about our past, present and future selves can help you get out of your own way, open doors you might never have before, and move forward not just in resolutions, but resolutions for life.
Let’s try this out before planning any goals (no matter when you might be reading this!)
Answer the following questions and honestly and thoroughly as you can. They’ll help you zero in on the stories you’re telling yourself about who you are and what you’re capable of; how those scripts are limiting you; and how to rewrite them and create real, positive, lasting change in your life.
Exercise 1: What stories are you telling yourself, and how can you rewrite them?
“THE STORIES WE TELL OURSELVES ARE IMPORTANT”
What kind of person would you say you are, right now?
( “I’m the kind of person that…..” )
What kind of person do you want to become (your future self)?
( “I would like to be the kind of person that…..” )
How could you start living as if you were that person you wanted to become?
( What’s one small thing that that kind of person might do … and how could you do that thing, today? )
What do you feel like you’ve “done wrong”, or “screwed up”, or “failed” recently?
( Get it all out of your head, on paper, in a doc, wherever. Mistakes help us grow. )
Why haven’t you achieved your goals already? What’s in your way?
(What’s truly standing in the way of what you want to do? Why haven’t you been able to do it yet? Keep asking yourself why, until you uncover the core of it. This can be really hard to face, take your time.)
Next, let’s turn those mistakes around and try some growth mindset.
What do these mistakes tell you, either about yourself, or what you might need in order to be successful?
(What could you possibly learn from these mistakes, or what have you learned about yourself that can help you move forward)
If you were going to be your own coach - your future self, what would you suggest to yourself?
(Take what you learned above to decide what to set goals for and move forward.)
Exercise 2: Imagine your Future Self in a perfect day.
“GOAL IS A PROMISE TO YOUR FUTURE SELF”
Imagine it’s nearing the end of December and you’ve succeeded, at least what’s reasonable in the next 12 months. You’ve gotten everything you wanted.
What are you doing?
What’s around you?
What goals did you achieve (and maintain) to get there
Now, invite your ‘Future Self’ over to guide you on your first steps of your Perfect Day.
What one small change would you make to move towards that Perfect Day, today?
What action can you practice daily to help you build a habit to give you progress towards that goal (don’t worry about it being too small. Once you can do this consistently for two weeks, you can consider making it a little bigger, or adding something else! - this is where that ‘fresh start’ skill can help. Instead of all or nothing, think always something.
This could be as simple as:
One glass of water when you’re not a water drinker instead of 8
Having a piece of fruit in the morning instead of skipping breakfast,
A 5 minute walk instead of a run.
Taking a 5 minute break when you’re used to working through lunch
Planning one kind of meal a week instead of all of them
Adding one serving of veggies to your dinner
Reading one page of a book you wanted to start
Breathing for one minute rather than meditating for 20
How do you know if the action is doable? Check the following:
It should feel a little too easy on most days and just enough on others.
You should be able to fit this into a busy schedule most days.
You should feel ready to do the thing, willing to do it, and have the ability to complete it.
You can imagine yourself practicing these actions every day
Everything counts, no matter how small or trivial it may seem. These are likely and most often the foundational habits that we need to work on and even master. No extremes here.
Now when you run into those familiar scripts and self-talk from above, you’ve got your baseline you can always scale back to when ‘life’ happens. You’ve got tools and a clearer idea of what to do. You know your patterns and what happens when there’s a hiccup (or a few).
Exercise 3: Commit to Your Resolutions for Life
Let’s take it one step further. With that same goal, same idea in mind. Really what we are trying to do in become more like our Future Self. Instead of writing out your New Year's Resolutions, try documenting your commitment - your promise to yourself like the one pictured here:
“I PROMISE MYSELF”
Your commitment can give you some accountability. Bring you back to earth. Serve as a reminder that you are human, and can do big things - even when ‘life’ happens. Remember, a healthy, fit body isn’t just about nutrition and exercise.
It’s also about how you think and feel, and what’s important to you.
Your values. These are your resolutions for life.
Healthy habits are more important now than ever. Healthy living is more than nutrition. It’s mindset, self awareness, stress management, recovery, and designing better habits + routines around your goals values for a better life. That’s why I offer a 360 degree approach to wellness that includes nutrition, movement, sleep, stress management, and behaviour change. It can feel like a lot, especially when you’re a busy professional, but you don’t have to do it alone.
Want coaching, accountability and support on your wellness goals and learn how to enjoy the process too? Explore how to improve on your cognitive flexibility, and benefit on the flexibility you already have - Book a Nutrition & Lifestyle Coaching session with me here on Cyno!
- Darlene Calderone - Behaviour Change Specialist, Nutrition & Wellness Coach, Personal and Group Fitness Trainer on Cyno