“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*.