I have spent many a November swearing “It will be different from the 1st of Jan”. I am just going to get Christmas out the way and then “I’ll be back on it in January”. I’m starting my diet on Monday, going to bed early tomorrow night, going for a run on Saturday, doing my CV on my next day’s holiday, starting my business one day…next this, later that.
I am not quite sure who we think we are kidding? My suspicion is it all comes from an awareness that things need to change for our own good, underpinned by an innate tendency to de-prioritise yourself under the needs of others.
In the past I found myself with a seemingly endless capacity for other people. No matter what anyone needed I was your woman. I prided myself on being highly productive and never saw my ‘be perfect’ achievement driver as anything other than positive. My value system prioritised everyone else, told me I was only good enough when I was delivering and saw weakness in taking time out or admitting to stress - which made me very reliable for a long time! I was never off sick, never cancelled and always went above and beyond, sometimes to extraordinary levels.
But the truth is, as is so often the case, your biggest strength is your biggest weakness and needs to be actively managed. My decline was slow and steady but I was left stressed and anxious after a lifetime of trying to be good enough to please my own out of balance value system.
Whatever your driver, be it people pleasing, or always having to be the strong one, the perfect one, delivering quickly or trying your hardest, it’s important to be aware of how it might play out in how you set targets and goals for yourself:
- Are you creating goals for yourself that you could never achieve just so you can flog yourself with them when you don’t achieve them?
- Are your new year’s resolutions about what other people want from you rather than being routed in something you truly want for yourself?
- Are you trying to short cut the time it takes to get to where you want and then getting impatient when it doesn’t happen overnight?
- Are you trying ‘really hard’ at something but actually fearful of what might happen if you do achieve it?
- Perhaps your resolutions are routed in showing no weakness or you ignore how stressed they make you in trying to achieve them?
I certainly wasn’t setting realistic goals or looking after myself enough to be able to achieve them for a long time. It wasn’t until I truly understood my core beliefs system, the limiting beliefs I had wrapped round them, what was truly important to me and what actually motivated me that I started setting myself goals that stuck.
Through this deeper understanding of myself I don’t save my goal setting for January, I trust that I am a constant work in progress and that’s OK. I set goals for myself routed in what I know I actually want and I work slowly towards them, making mindful choices towards them every day and celebrating every tiny success along the way.
Now don’t get me wrong, I still have a wobble every now and then and it can take a kick from the hubster to make me realise I am going in to over drive and acheiving nothing. But being more conscious of these traits myself has enabled the people around me to also be more conscious and to support me when I need it. No-one is an island and it IS so OK to rely on others, particularly for holding the mirror up to increase your self-awareness.
Let’s use this spring to take a step back and breathe. Have another look at those failed new year’s resolutions you feel guilty about not achieving and see if you can re-frame them:
- Which ones represents something you actually want for yourself?
- How can you rework them to make them more achievable?
- What is realistic for you to achieve and in what timescales?
- What is the smallest step you can take today towards them?
This month I am focussing on goal setting so stay tuned for tips and advice on how to set positive, more realistic goals that you can achieve.
If you would like to explore how a coach can help you develop a deeper understanding of yourself and create and action your goals in pursuit of the life you want, please do get in touch.
Don't forget to check out my reset and reclaim self-development workshop in collaboration with Happiness Transformation - see www.resetandreclaimprogramme.com/events for details.