This is a tough time of year for me as a professional because the onslaught of dieting talk seems to invade every space I inhabit.

 

I want to clear up all the misconceptions, and at the same time want to plug my ears and pretend I didn’t hear anything!  It is absolutely exhausting and makes me a little bit crazy too.

Ironically,  I just so happen to be writing the chapter on Building Habits in the book I am working on, so the content is appropriate for what I partially want to say to everyone jumping on a new bandwagon this month.

Here is an unedited, rough draft blurb from that chapter on habits.  If I can keep my daily writing habit on track, you may get to read the final version in all it’s entirety one day soon!  Here’s to good habits!

Take it slow!

I know that it seems tedious to have to pull back when we are so motivated to fix our whole life all at once. Yet we know that it doesn’t work out in the long run to do it that way. We have learned this lesson repeatedly…at least once a year with the dawn of the New Year and all the life perfecting goals that we so sincerely set for ourselves. I get it, and I feel the tug too! It seems so easy in concept, and a string of five to ten goals that cover all the areas of lives seems really doable…especially this year, because somehow it is going to work out better this time.

Does this sound similar to the self-talk that we do when we begin a new diet? There’s a reason for that. Here is an example of some New Year’s goals that I might be tempted to employ:

Nutrition: Eat five servings of vegetables every day

Exercise: Do 10 minutes of yoga before bed every night

Spirituality: Read a family devotion each evening at dinner

Financial: Write down/log every expense from the day before bed

Career growth: Read and tweet one relevant research article each morning

Personal growth: Volunteer once a month with a social justice organization

 Why isn’t all of this already part of my life? I should already be doing these things! It really isn’t all that much. It seems completely doable. To be the person I want to be this should all be instituted immediately.

These are the messages we give ourselves, and I definitely get it, but I also get that it’s never going to happen all at once! It is too much! Can we even list all of the things in each of those categories that we already do on a regular basis? It would take days and days and the list would continue to get longer. And if we were to look at that list and review when exactly each of those components of our lives was instituted we would see that it wasn’t in huge chunks each New Years. It has all been woven into the fabric of our lives over time and with lots of trial and error and in accordance with the current circumstances of our lives.

And that is how we want to institute new goals in our lives as well…one at a time, with relevance to our current life, and a commitment to consistency and problem solving along the way.

It is always good to have a list of goals and aspirations, and having those ideas in our consciousness will facilitate making them a reality when we get ready to start working on that one. However, let’s focus on really sinking our teeth into one goal at a time, and figuring out how to work on making it a habit.

The other piece of this puzzle is that the steps to creating a habit and the tactics that we employ and that work can be very different at varying phases in our lives. I have become very aware of how frequently the patterns of my life change with all the different stages of life that my children and family are in. The great thing about that is that the possibilities are new and changing with each season. Choices that were not an option a year ago are all of a sudden a miraculous answer today. Being open minded and willing to try new ways of tackling a problem can lead to pleasant surprises.