The word echoed around in my head as if it had no canyon to fade away into. I was a failure.
I remember it like it was yesterday. It was March 31st. Day 90 was marked on my calendar in big, bright red letters. It was the day I was supposed to have completed a 90 day challenge. The day I should have been able to look at myself in the mirror and see the results of my New Year’s Resolution, a “new” me. Instead, all I saw was the old me…and then some.
I beat myself up mentally for weeks. Then one day, while I was sitting in church, it hit me. Yes, church. In the middle of April. The sermon had nothing to do with fitness or being healthier (though my pastor has discussed that on occasion because he’s kind of addicted to Bojangles fried chicken). No, the epiphany came from these words: “I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize.” (It’s Philippians 3:13-14 – I won’t lie, I had to Google it because all I really remembered were the words.) And whether you have any religious thoughts or not, these words ring true.
After I had “failed” at achieving my objective, these words made me realize I hadn’t really taken a hold of what I wanted to accomplish in the first place. It was time I forgot what was behind me, forgot about the things I hadn’t completed, and press forward. I didn’t need a new year to set a goal and accomplish it. I simply needed to be truly committed to “win the prize.”
These resolutions that we promise to commit to every year are meant to make us feel better about ourselves and improve ourselves. And yes, there’s something about a New Year that gives us the feeling of a fresh start. But is there really a difference between Dec 31st and Jan 1st?
Nothing magical happens at midnight on New Year’s Eve to make us miraculously change. So many New Year’s resolutions are often just a wish list…something we’d like to change about our lives, but little more. It’s awesome that we want to devote ourselves to improving something in our lives, but have you ever ask yourself why it’s so hard to keep resolutions? Maybe it’s because our resolutions aren’t realistic, or maybe it’s because we don’t have a logical plan for reaching them. We aren’t prepared to press forward. What I’ve learned is that it doesn’t matter what day of the year it is, when you’re ready to make a change, you make a plan and you make it work.
Here are a few tips to help you make a plan that a year from now will have changed your life, instead of something you’ve forgotten by the end of January.
Be realistic. It’s easy to make pipe dream resolutions. We get carried away. But look back at what you’ve been able to achieve in the past and use that as a guide. Don't say "I'm going to run a marathon," when you’ve barely ran down your driveway to get the mail. If you do, you’re just going to quit once you realize how high you’ve set your goals. Start your plan to reach goals at intervals and go from there.
Make change about you and not a number or event. Don’t target something like an event or X number of pounds as part of your plan; instead make the ultimate goal to change your behavior. So if something happens (as life often shows us can) and you’re unable to participate in your event, you still have your goal in place…to change YOU, not just run in some race. There will be plenty of events to participate in.
Plan!!! Let’s face it, statistics can’t always be trusted…especially ones about New Year’s resolutions since they are very likely skewed by the likes of those last minute resolutionists (the ones who swear to quit drinking ten tequila shots into New Year’s Eve). Planning ahead allows you to make a plan based on what you know you’re capable of.
Allow some backsliding. No one is perfect. It’s unrealistic to think you’re going make it through your entire plan without a single hitch. A plan that doesn’t leave room for slip-ups is already designed to fail. Mistakes are part of life. When you slip, pick yourself up, dust off and get back at it.
Change your mind set. The mind is a powerful thing. Re-program yours to focus on the positive effects your plan will have on your life. Instead of thinking of how much you miss that extra hour of sleep in the morning, focus on how getting some exercise is going to make you feel better and make you healthier.
Achieving goals isn’t about what happened in the past, it’s not about the times you’ve fallen…it’s about the times you’ve gotten back up when you did. Remember the ultimate goal. It’s about moving forward, and it doesn’t matter if it’s January 1st or April 23rd. Because what is failure anyway? If you’re moving forward, you’re improving…just not as fast as you had planned, and that's not really a failure at all. Is it?