At the beginning of this year, I was asked to do a presentation for a local nonprofit group. They wanted a “New Year, New You” type of presentation. I wasn’t able to accept their invitation as I was going to be out of town the weekend of their event. But, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I really was not a fan of this concept. The idea that in January a person is expected to make many vast changes to their lifestyle including getting up early, exercise, eat a different way, drink a gallon of water daily, go to bed earlier and more all before the holiday decorations are put away is so unrealistic for most people. Trying to change so many things at one time leads most people to frustration and then to give up altogether, especially at a time when people are headed back to work after traveling or hosting family and friends for the winter holidays. There are also many people who struggle during the holiday season as it can be particularly difficult for those who have lost loved ones that year. No wonder many feel disheartened or have given up entirely before February rolls around.
Change that Grows
Trying to make many drastic changes at one time is very difficult and overwhelming. Unless your health care provider has told you that you need to make many changes immediately because your health is at risk, it would be a better plan to start with one or two changes at a time.
A good to place to start is asking yourself, what is your goal? Do you want to improve your health in general? Do you want to run your first marathon? Do you want to add a sport to what you are currently doing and complete a triathlon?
When you know what your goals are, you can better choose where and when to begin. Set your goal, write it down and tell someone in your life about it. Let that person cheer you on and hold you accountable. Tell this person what forms of accountability would help you, from encouraging texts first thing in the morning or asking at the end of the week how things went. Choose one or two things that you can do that will move you closer to achieving your goal.
In 30-60 days, review your progress. If things are going well, add another change that will move you closer to your goal. If things aren’t going well, implement a different strategy. Small, incremental changes stick well long term.
Hang in There
I truly believe that it’s all about the journey. Not every run, bike or gym session is magical. Some days will feel defeating, but the great days will far exceed the bad ones. I keep a training journal. It shows me where I’ve been and how I’ve improved, and where I still need to work harder, the goals I’ve achieved and where I fell short. That journal brings me joy – a reminder that it’s never the wrong time to set a big goal and work toward it. Documenting your journey in a medium that matches you, journal or photos, will show your growth and remind you why you started. No matter where you are, anytime is a good time for a big dream!
Michelle Richardson is an MCMO four-star diplomat. She’s a mom, military spouse, Pilates instructor and avid runner. You can find her on Instagram, @texasrunnergirl.