I learned a few years ago that we become more motivated to change when what we’re attempting to change is something realistic. We become more inspired by ourselves when we can set smaller goals that are achievable rather than larger goals that only serve as a source of guilt when we realize we weren’t even close to accomplishing those goals. Yet, many of us continue to set New Year’s resolutions that are more on an extreme level than choosing to work toward change in our daily lives – 365 days per year. Too often we tell ourselves, “Tomorrow… I’ll start tomorrow” and probably because change is hard. If we can spend today taking/staying on an easier road then why would we want to make life more difficult?
Truth is that if change needs to be made it’s only going to become harder the more we procrastinate. Essentially, procrastination aims to keep us from feeling a disruption of emotion or a disruption of what is comfortable. One can argue that there are different things we put off and for different reasons, but for the purposes of this post I’m referring more to life changes that are necessary in order for us to be healthy, happy, calm, etc.
When working with clients, I encourage them to look at what they can do in this very moment or in this day to help themselves get to where they would like to be. This isn’t to disregard the future, but to focus the mind and behavior in the present because that is all we have control over. Each choice we make is made in the present moment so by setting smaller goals that we can achieve now, we are more likely to feel success. And if we don’t achieve a goal, we know we have another moment to try. It’s not unreasonable to set bigger goals as long as we are honest with ourselves about what we’re able to do in the present to get us to those goals.
Within my own life, it was many years before I realized that the work of recovery meant focusing on what I could do right now, today, rather than telling myself I had to “never” or “always” do something. What happened when I used those all-or-nothing terms was I practically made promises to myself and others that I wasn’t able to keep… Not because I didn’t want to, but because it was overwhelming to “never” or “always” be one way or another. It’s like giving ourselves a strict set of rules that go against our nature as human beings. So, for myself it was important to strive to do my best in each situation and when I made choices that were less than healthy, I knew that I hadn’t wiped away all of my previous successes. Ultimately, this way of thinking and this way of setting goals is what led me down the path of continued health and freedom from past struggles.
As we ring in the new year, I encourage all of us to look at what we can realistically do to help ourselves in the moment. Whether you’re facing mental health concerns, relationship trials, career decisions, family struggles… you have the power to make small changes that can propel you into the life you desire for yourself. And take the time to celebrate all of the successes you have, even if to others those successes would seem insignificant.
HAPPY NEW YEAR FROM THIS SIDE OF THE CREEK!!!