Are you setting yourself up for failure this week?

Image from www.dzinepress.com

Image from www.dzinepress.com

“Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?” 
~ L.M. Montgomery

I’m all for change.  That’s part of our power – the ability to move in a new direction, to make ourselves over, to become something new or different to where and how we were.

But how do you achieve that change?

Are you one of those ‘all or nothing’ people?

You know, the ones who declare (publicly, or to themselves with deep conviction), “Right, I’m starting this tomorrow.  No excuses.  Full on.”

‘This’ could be a diet, an exercise plan, some epic project, or for good measure ‘a complete life overhaul’ with everything thrown in.  Whatever it is, it looks vastly different from the place where you are right now.

These sorts of commitments are usually entered into on a Monday, leaving Sunday as a last day for cramming in all of the things you won’t be having/doing/not doing.

Goodness, some people spend a week or more ‘saying goodbye’ to all of the things they are leaving behind.  I’ve just watched a friend defiantly posting pics on facebook of all of the last beer, chips, pizzas, cocktails, desserts, chocolates, wine, burgers etc etc that they are giving up when they start an intense detox.  They’ve binged on more junk food in this last week than they probably ate since the beginning of the year.

I have a girlfriend who asked me to be her ‘commitment buddy’ and emailed me a list of what she was planning to stick to each week, starting on Monday. With her permission, here’s her list:

  • Give up all forms of sugar
  • Drink 3 litres of water a day
  • No alcohol
  • No more junk food or take-aways
  • Take full range of supplements and get back on my herbs and juicing each day
  • Give up all caffeine
  • Grain free diet
  • 30 minutes yoga and write in my journal each morning
  • Pelvic floor exercises – five minutes morning and night
  • Protein breakfast, morning and afternoon protein snack, salad and protein lunch, vegetable and protein dinner – no carbs
  • No more meals in front of tv – family dinners at table
  • Walk at lunch time
  • Prepare healthy home-made lunches and after school snacks for the girls
  • Reading – 30 minutes each night of a self-development book
  • Writing – 3 x 2 hour stints each week to have my book finished by Christmas
  • Husband – 2 intimate sessions a week to rekindle romance
  • Walk girls to library each week and take dog – train dog while on walk
  • Clean house including washing on and clean kitchen each night so we have a fresh start each day
  • 3 weights and resistance sessions at gym down the road each week. Perhaps before pick up girls from after-school care.
  • Gardening – 2 hours each weekend to bring yard back up to standard
  • Renovation – 3 hours each weekend on one project until all projects on attached list are ticked off (attached is a BIG list)
  • Join and attend a weekly dance class or cooking class to extend my circle of friends and put energy into my own interests.

I am tired just reading that list. These are massive changes, and there are so many of them. My girlfriend’s a mum who works full-time as a nurse in a stressful environment, and she’s married with four little kids. Her life is already a whirlwind.  She’s time poor and always exhausted. This list is a radical departure from her current life.

And that’s why I’m asking you if you’re setting yourself up for failure this week…

My friend doing the detox is going to a retreat that specialises in colonics, raw food and ‘clean living’. The entire experience is regimented, controlled and locked in.  No chance of failure there, unless you leave. But that epic binge before they went?  Did that really do their body any good, and will one week of virtuous detoxing erase years of self neglect?  What changes will they make when they come back to the real world?

And my girlfriend – the nurse with the major life overhaul plan? I rang her and we talked about it. There was laughter, there were tears and in the end we made a new list.  Here it is:

  • Buy a water bottle and take it with me.  Aim to drink two refills by the end of each day.
  • Cut back coffee to two on weekends with husband, and one a day.  Review in a month. (She loves coffee, but is drinking up to 4 lattes a day.)
  • Cut down from two sugars in each coffee to none, or swap to stevia/natvia.
  • Make a conscious effort to increase salad and vegetable intake each day.
  • No midweek alcohol.
  • Have a date night with hubby, and let the girls have a weekend sleepover at gran’s house once a fortnight. (This is a win for everyone in the family – girls happy, grandparents happy, and friend and her husband happy)
  • Yoga class each Thursday night and husband will look after the girls.  They can have whatever they want for dinner – husband to organise.
  • Arrange for a house cleaner once a fortnight.

I’m still going to be my friend’s commitment buddy, and we’ll still check in.  I have faith that these are the kind of changes she can succeed at, because she’s not overwhelming herself, and as these new lifestyle changes become habits, she can gradually bring more changes in if she wants to.  There’s no major stress, and no massive expectation.

Unless we have a massive motivator (eg terminal illness or some other equally pressing life event) most of us won’t keep up a regime that is completely different to where we are now. But when we make small changes and adjustments over time, we have a much greater chance of lasting success.

What small thing could you include or remove from your life this week that will improve the quality of your life over time?

Start small. Finish what you begin or let it become a part of your daily routine. Form habits of completion. This builds lasting change, self belief and confidence. And when you’re ready pick another thing, start small… *rinse and repeat*.

32 thoughts on “Are you setting yourself up for failure this week?

  1. love this. I see so many at New Years make all these resolutions that sound like being committed to the army or something. LOL….my committments are to be kind to more people, to share as much as I can to those that have not, to be kind to myself and to do things that make life better..not worse. HUGS

  2. This is great 🙂 Reading your blog always reminds me why I read it. I love how nourishing and non-judgmental it is. You’re a wise woman!

    When I decided to make my art my priority, I began with a commitment to working on projects I already had going rather than beginning new ones. I found out that I felt fear about completing a project. Now if I work a little here and there at each one, I don’t have to think about the end result, and I actually get there! 🙂

    I’ve recently replaced sugar with fruit (a disincentive to binging, and it tastes better), and a few weeks later started using a website that tracks how much of what food group I eat. I am so grateful to find out how good eating vegetables makes me feel!

    I have a friend who says “I’ll quit one thing per year.” It’s good to have some limits. And it’s good to go slow enough to let it become habit.

    Peace and Love,
    ~Mia

    • Mia, I recognise this crazy behaviour in my friend because that used to be me!!!

      Fear of completing a project, huh? Well, I’m so pleased you’re sneakily eroding that one and replacing it with patterns of completion. I think your friend is very wise too.

      Here’s to all of us going slow, and being real.
      Much love to you,
      Nicole
      xx

      • Haha yup. I’ve lost track of all the ‘I’m gonna fix myself this week’ lists I made, in college especially.
        I told my buddy about this post and that I’d quoted him and he said ‘and it’s working.’
        Anne Shirley was truly my childhood hero 😉
        🙂 Much love.
        Mia

  3. I will moderate my alcohol consumption when I’m out with certain people – I don’t recognise the person I become, and I don’t like her very much. I will also go back to yoga at least once a week, and practice my meditation at least 4 times a week… Time for a few small step changes back to the real me; who acts with integrity, and who I actually like and respect!

  4. I laughed out loud at your friends list of all the things she was going to commit to! Please thank her for being brave and sharing. I laughed because I recognised myself, and seeing it in the third person, I recognised how busy that list was, and how huge all those changes were. Thankyou Nicole, you always seem to say the right thing at the right time. xxx

    • I did thank her, Sam, and she is still laughing too. And this morning she’s signed up for a pilates class on Thursday nights, instead of yoga, thanks to another friend who saw her epic list and suggested it to her.

      We all get a little unrealistic at times, and it helps to be able to laugh at ourselves and then act with more kindness in our own lives.
      Bless xx

      • I’ll go and do that right now, ‘cos books are sewwww easy to write (said no one ever) 😀 I can’t wait to finish them 🙂 Love yew massively xoxo

  5. Thank you for the reminder, baby steps & one (or two)small things at a time. Which I know to do. But then beat myself up over going so slow with them lol. Timing as always.

  6. Wonderful reminder that we are not superhuman. Recently I read that if you can do something for 21 days it becomes habit. So even if you can only make one change but you keep it up for 21 days it should become habit and then you can try the next change on your list. Slowly but surely …

  7. Yes, the list is funny. Especially the two mandatory ‘intimate sessions’ per week – ‘cos nothing says ‘romance’ more than lists, schedules and minimum (or is that meant to be a maximum?) session count. And then you realise that it’s sad, because that list has been already composed for us by popular media and societal expectations. If we don’t tick all the boxes on that list (and all the boxes that aren’t there because your friend is already doing them), then we are deemed to be less than worthy as women.

  8. My change is a solemn promise NEVER to write one of ‘those’ lists ever again. I am working on learning how to love myself first-just ordered a stack of books on the subject. I LOVE reading and I am looking forward to all my books arriving in the mail!!

  9. I couldn’t agree more, I think you’ve saved your friend from an absolute nightmare of beating herself up and feeling wretched. Little changes bring those much needed boosts of encouragement without overwhelming us, and I love your attitude.

  10. lovely message for us all. yes, thanks to your friend for allowing you to share this information with us and for your absolutely sound advice to her. after reading all of the posts i am now going to go meditate before i go out in the yard to finish all of my raised beds i’ve been building and then put drip irrigation in at least one more (each bed takes around 1-2 hours!) and spray paint all of the pvc for the hoop frames a nice lime green color! and then lie in the hammock when i collapse from exhaustion! love, pamela

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