If I Could Give Advice To My Younger Self,
I Would Say…
In thinking about a new year, with all of it’s new possibilities, a lot of us begin to fall back on that old tradition of setting up resolutions. I started to wonder where did this tradition come from.
The resolution has been a time honored tradition passed down through religion. The Romans made promises to their god Janus, of which January is named for. Ironically, Janus had two faces, one that looked back to the old year and one that looked ahead to the new. Mostly, the tradition was to forgive others, to do better, and to pay debts. But like most traditions, it has morphed over the years into many of us reviewing our lives the year before and making a judgement call on what we could have done better, more of, or even less of, using the ‘two faces’ of our own minds; one that looks behind at the previous year and one that looks ahead. However, somehow, many of us attach a hefty amount of shame or guilt to our reasoning as we choose what we should change. So, my advice to my younger self begins with this, there is no room for shame or guilt in our lives. Instead of resolutions, we should resolve to make the changes we want to see.
As a certified health and wellness coach, I am trained in setting goals. There are really two kinds of goals, outcome goals and behavior goals. Let me talk a little about the difference in those two. If you want to change something about your life, something that may take a lot of effort, that is an outcome goal. What would you like to see differently about your life in three months? Often, people will say something like “I want to lose 10 lbs, or I want to stop drinking caffeine.“ However, those kinds of goals are not reached overnight. You have to make slow changes to get there. That is where behavioral goals come in. What will you do differently today to get to your outcome? For instance, if you want to lose 10 lbs, maybe this week you decide to join weight watchers and track your food. Or, you decide to start exercising 30 minutes three times a week. This type of goal setting doesn’t just have to be about fitness or health however, it can also be about your professional life.
Still, do not let goals get so big that you are overwhelmed. Be reasonable with yourself. Probably most of you have heard of SMART goals. You want to be Specific. I am going to track my food intake 5 days a week. Measurable. (5 days) Acheivable. Only you know your limits. You know what your life is like. You should make your goals personal and customized to your life. That is where the R comes in. Realistic. If you are a single mom working full time and going to school, then you could not promise to exercise 7 days a week. You have to really look at what you can do, not what guilt or shame says you should do. Any change is better than no change and you are the one who sets the T, for time-oriented. That means you say how long you will work on achieving your behavior goal and ultimately, your outcome.
I share all of this with you, and my younger self, because I had no idea how to set a realistic goal until I began studying for my certification. It seems so simple and makes so much sense, but so many of us judge what is lacking from our lives according to what others have. Setting SMART goals is all about you. So you have to use those two faces of Janus. You have to look behind. What worked for you before? You have to look ahead. What is my life going to look like during this time? Then, you can begin to build the structure of your success.
So, for my younger self, ease off the shame and guilt and let that go. Set goals for your life that you feel good about. Set small ones that build to the outcome. That way, you have wins along the way to remind you how far you have come. Also, it is okay to adjust as our lives change.
Lastly, this doesn’t just apply to health and wellness. It applies to any area of your life you may want to change. If you are stuck in the same position at work and want to move, you can use these same rules to analyze what you want to change. It is only with a change that we get a different outcome. You may have a hard time getting started. That is where having a mentor could really help. If you look around, there is someone you admire. Maybe you have heard their story and recognize they may be able to help. Maybe your first goal is to ask them if they would mentor you. You could talk with them about your SMART goals, your outcome goals and then ask for their advice.
The best part is you are the ruler of your life. You get to choose. Look at your thoughts and remove anything that has grown from shame or guilt. Take other voices out of your mind, listen to your soul, and then move ahead with your plan. Resolutions are fun, but resolve is the backbone. Happy New Year and I challenge you to set your resolve.
– September Fox | IT Trainer Commercial Education at Roche Diagnostics Corporation –
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