Fall into a Flexible Approach
I am a summer lover—I love the warmth, the light, the more relaxed approach to pretty much everything.
I can get a little melancholy as summer comes to an end because, well, winter is coming…
And yet, I am an autumn lover, too—brisk air, gorgeous colors, and pumpkin-flavored things everywhere (except, for the record, Pumpkin Spice lattes—waaay too sweet).
Autumn is the perfect time of year to get back to it…back to school, back to business, back to structure, etc.
[Honestly, I think I could happily live August, September, and October over and over again and leave out the rest of the year.]
Anyway, I like to make September resolutions. Is that weird? I make New Year's resolutions as well.
I like resolutions, goals, intention-setting and all that self-improvement stuff. It keeps me on track. I know a lot of people don't *believe* in resolutions, but I most definitely do.
Why? Because failing to plan is is all too likely a plan to fail.
The trick with resolutions or goals or is to give yourself a little wiggle-room. It’s great to have specific goals, but we need to allow some space for life to creep in and mess with us. Goals that are too rigid (like diets and workout plans that are too rigid) inevitably end in a distinctly unsatisfactory way--a.k.a. failure.
Setting yourself up for successful resolutions involves incorporating flexibility into your goals. Even if you have incredible willpower and focus, life throws curve balls, and those curve balls will temporarily knock us off our best game.
It’s okay. Plan for that inevitability. Success doesn’t require that you never have setbacks (on what planet is that going to happen?); success requires that you get back on track as quickly as you are able after a setback.
Expecting ourselves to be *perfect* on the path to our goals, doesn’t just keep us from succeeding, frequently, it keeps us from even starting.
Have you ever had this conversation with yourself?
“I should start getting back into Zumba now that the kids are back in school. Kiera’s soccer schedule though…I would really have to scramble to get the gym after practice. And I know she is going to have games that will get in the way. Oh! And I have that work conference next month. I’m going to be pretty stressed about preparing for that, plus I’ll be out of town for 5 days. I also sort of promised Melanie that I would help her out with organizing the walk-a-thon—I have no idea how much time that will take. I guess now is not a good time to start. Maybe in November when things calm down a bit…”
Guess what, my friend, things are not going to calm down in November. This your busy, hectic life, things don’t just calm down. The reality is you have to go from listing all the reasons why you can’t do what you know you need to do to asking yourself “how can I make this work for me?”
I’ve mentioned before that is the magic question: How can I make this work for me?
What if you had this conversation with yourself instead?
“I should start getting back into Zumba now that the kids are back in school. Kiera’s soccer schedule though…I would really have to scramble to get the gym after practice. And I know she is going to have games that will get in the way. Okay, that could be tricky. Maybe on Tuesday and Thursdays Kiera could catch a ride home with Becky, and I could pick Becky’s kids up on Monday and Wednesday. That could work, or I could just accept the fact that I’m going to have to scramble a bit. And if a few of Kiera’s games fall on Zumba night, well, I can just walk around the track while they play. I’ve seen other parents doing this.
Oh! And I have that work conference next month. I’m going to be pretty stressed about preparing for that, plus I’ll be out of town for 5 days. What’s the work around? Two things to remind myself of: 1) If I’m stressing out, I will really need to be working out—it’s the best stress-management tool for me, and 2) I’ve been to the conference hotel before—they have a really nice gym—I can just make it point to go once over the 5 days and I’ll feel like I haven’t totally lost ground.
I also sort of promised Melanie that I would help her out with organizing the walk-a-thon—I have no idea how much time that will take. I guess I can decide how much time I am willing to give. Duh. I didn’t commit to anything specific. I can just let Melanie know that I’m not available on Tuesdays and Thursdays. And, honestly, which is more important to me? This is a good opportunity for me to practice setting limits.”
Yep. It takes a lot more effort to figure out how to make things work. It requires a lot of self-negotiation and a little thinking outside of the box.
BUT consider this…if the goal is to go to Zumba twice per week and you *only* end up going 5 times per month, that is 5 times more (500% more!) than if you decide to wait for November.
AND November is going to be hellaciously busy also, I promise. You may have to go through the whole process all over again with a different set of hurdles. But now you have an advantage. You will also have established a habit and built confidence in your ability to make things happen even when it’s hard. Priceless.