Cast off unrealistic expectations and make
2018 all about simplicity.
I think the reason we all crave January and the New Year is the opportunity to hit the refresh button on our lives. We have all just spent the Christmas break looking back on the year that was and we have had time to really reflect on how this went for us. Reflection is important and self-reflection when done properly can be a powerful way to move forward with renewed focus and often success.
When looking back however it can be all too easy to only focus on just those things which you didn’t achieve. This time last year you were going to run a marathon, lose three stone, wear a bikini on holiday, learn how to cook, join the gym, <insert New Year Resolution Here>. Whatever your goal was I’m sure your motivation and desire was not lacking when you set out to achieve them, However, as the year got going something happened and some of these goals remain left on the shelf.
This is the challenge of January and the New Year, we all want to achieve the impossible, break every barrier and scale every mountain. Now, as a coach, a client with a big goal excites me at any time of the year, however, when I meet a client with a simple clear goal in January I know they are the ones who will defy the New Year resolution odds and actually go the distance.
Now, at this point I want to point out that good self-reflection should include the positives of the past year as well, things you have enjoyed, goals you have achieved, things you have learnt and areas which you want to build on in the year ahead. Yet sadly we are often drawn to those things we did not achieve particularly in terms of health, diet and exercise. Add this mindset to the over-indulgent and low activity month of December and this ends in an over-correction for many in January.
Over corrections in my opinion are what lead us into detox diets, gym memberships we will never use, costly supplements that promise the earth and the all to familiar diet regime of the moment, which is often highly restrictive and just as unhealthy on balance as Decembers over indulgences. These products offer hope, hope of a quick solution, hope of a quick route back to feeling better and hope you can get momentum again and finally hit your goals.
This brings us to the biggest challenge of the New Year. With many craving or even desperate to make a change it can be easy to get weighed down not by the hope of these products but the expectation of the New Year. We put too much pressure on ourselves to lose weight quickly, to quit all alcohol, to go to the gym every day and to run a marathon even when we have never run any further than round the block. This expectation drives goals that are too complicated, too big and often unrealistic with your current lifestyle.
To make this New Year and by New Year, I mean the whole year a success then ask yourself what one thing would you like to achieve by this time next year more than anything else?
One goal, one driving force and one singular focus.
If like many your goal is to lose weight then what one thing is having the biggest impact on this goal right now? Work on just this one thing for the next month or two and then ask yourself the same question and move onto the next biggest barrier to your weight loss goals.
If you want to lose three stone by this time next year and your reaction right now is to join the gym, go on a detox and start juicing everything that’s green within eyesight how long will this last? Too much change is too difficult for most people to manage and sustain for the long term.
If for example you want to lose three stone and you identify that eating too many takeaways is the biggest barrier to you losing any weight. Ask yourself why do you order so many takeaways? Is it time? Is it lack of having a healthy meal prepared in advance? or is it that your cooking skills let you down and it’s easier to order in than take on the challenge of learning to cook?
If you decide to learn how to cook during January then this is a much simpler and clearer path to achieving lasting weight loss as the skill will serve you for years to come. Jumping on a detox plan or juicing diet still leaves you ordering in too many takeaways February – December because the learning was never done in January to carry forward your success.
Cast off your high expectations of what January should look like and simplify your goals. Every additional goal you add above those one or two that are genuinely important to you will improve the odds that you will be successful. These additional goals will form part of the bigger goal as you progress through the year so won’t be missed, they simply cannot all be done at the same time and in certainly not all in January.
Here’s to a successful whole 2018 and not just January