It’s midyear, months after our resolutions for the New Year. I’ve talked to some folks who are still trying to bring about lasting life style changes.
They’ve tried hard to stay on their program. For many, they yielded to the lure of the habits they were trying to replace, discouraged because they’d ‘fallen off the wagon’.
Whether your goal was to pay off debts, buy a house, write a book, quit a job that wasn’t right for you, start a business, or lose weight, how close are you to achieving your goal? What debts have you paid off or are close to paying off? What courageous acts have you performed? (It doesn’t matter if they’re not courageous in someone else’s eyes.)
Worse than simply being discouraged because they haven’t completely reached their goals, they’ve scrapped all the effort they’ve invested and accepted themselves as being failures.I bring this up because it’s already well into spring, and I’ve met many people who have already reverted back to old habits and practices. It seems they are very unforgiving of themselves and disappointed that they had a fall.
This is the All-or-Nothing or Perfectionism mind set. Those living in this mindset are doomed for repeated disappointments, because there is never a straight line to success!
Take a baby for example. When she is ready to walk, she makes fervent attempts to move herself from here to there on wobbly little legs. Many of her efforts end in her bottom meeting the floor instead of her feet!
Despite her difficulties and repeated missteps, no parent takes that child and straps them to the crib to prevent them from trying again because they have yet to succeed! Wouldn’t that be silly?
How would she ever apply what she’s learned from each journey, no matter how short?
Instead, her parents patiently watch her many falls and encourage the little one to keep trying. Their support, praise, and encouragement give her the confidence her to keep at her task until she finally conquers gravity and tames her adorably chubby little limbs.
Suddenly, all her persistence and their patience and encouragement is rewarded with her first clumsy steps. Before any of them know it, her short little legs are taking her wherever she wants to go!
Like our sweet little friend, we should be talking about baby-steps toward changing our behavior. We should patiently and with determination, replace old habits with more beneficial ones.
It takes about 21 days for a new habit to take hold. Many of us expect years of old habits to change in magically, setting us up for discouragement. Making too many changes at one time is even more overwhelming.
It’s fairly easy to see difficulties with this All-or-Nothing / Perfectionism mindset, particularly when folks are trying to lose weight.
They set a goal weight and go for it.
However, most of us don’t celebrate all of the little achievements along the way. We wait until we have met our final goal to congratulate ourselves for all of our hard work and become more and more discouraged when we aren’t making the progress we expected. Our goal looks so far away!
Celebrating your victories along the way trains your brain to own victory, even if it’s only briefly.
Your brain has to be trained because it will take you back to where it’s familiar. It’s not an automatic, consciousness raising, forward thinking organ…unless you train it to be so!
When you celebrate your accomplishments you acknowledge that you have done something either challenging or tedious. You are feeding yourself and learning to receive.
Receiving is difficult for most people; giving is much easier. We forget that we are as worth of praise as those we see around us. We encourage others as they work toward their goals, but withhold that same praise from ourselves!
This attitude of discouragement puts us out of balance and may be a trigger for emotional eating or self-sabotage. By not giving ourselves the kudos we deserve, we hold ourselves back from success.
Some ways to fight discouragement:
- Set small measurable goals
- Take one small manageable step at a time
- Choose an eating plan or program that tells you WHAT to eat and helps you figure out how NOT to overeat
- Avoid taking on a plan you “should” follow. Be sure the plan honors who you are and what you do and do not enjoy.
- Be kind to yourself; when you miss a day of your plan. Hone in on something sweet about that day even if it’s the rest you’re getting, then Celebrate it.
- Accept your misstep and get back on schedule.
- Get accountabilities or work-out partner (s)
- Vary your meals and your workout
- Use post-its, computer memos, or your cell phone alarm to set reminders
- Expect to have “bad” days once in a while
Avoiding or changing the All-or-Nothing / Perfectionism mindsets will help keep you on track and free from a downward spiral in motivation. If you’d like more support, call for an appointment to gain more clarity regarding any limiting beliefs you may have.
In our next issue we’ll review what common limiting beliefs are, ways you can identify your own, and how to change them.