It’s January and we’re in our annual season of change – people have made (and either stuck with or set aside) their New Year’s resolutions and at this point in the month (roughly 2-weeks in) we’re either committed to change or overwhelmed by trying.
For me, the biggest changes I’m working to make this year have to do with how I eat and how much I move. Both goals feel like huge hurdles in a season when the great outdoors offers mostly cold and wet weather, and my inner inclinations are pointed toward hibernation behaviors.
Overcoming life-long patterns of a sedentary office-based lifestyle and moving toward choosing (consistently) whole foods in carefully curated patterns (2 protein, 1 carbohydrate,2 vegetables, 1 fat) has for a mix of reasons, made me feel inadequate, stupid and generally unprepared for these changes.
This is all of course CRAZY because I’ve marched through all the stages of change (know them by heart!) and felt I was totally prepared for ACTION as the New Year arrived – oops!
What’s become crystal clear to me is that I need to revisit my WHY not only every single day, but every time I encounter the choice to eat (whatever I feed myself) or the choice to move (whether I do or do not actually get up and move) – because it is the WHY that will help me make better choices, more often.
Here’s my WHY: I’m a 70-year-old woman who is caring for a 91-year-old husband with Alzheimer’s disease – if I’m not well, no one in this house will be well – so it is up to me to do what I can to support my aging mind & body with good nutrition, healthy choices, regular exercise and people who encourage those behaviors!
This isn’t about fitting into a new outfit for prom (I remember those goals) or looking good in my swimsuit by summertime. This is about building habits that serve me for the long run because this isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. And I certainly can’t afford (health-wise) to sit in a rocking chair and pretend I don’t have decades of life to live and work left to do!
On top of that, I have clients who expect that if I’m working with them on their health & wellness goals, I’ll be achieving my own goals as well – walking the talk, so to speak!
If you’re not clear about your WHY, your what doesn’t stand a chance! It doesn’t matter what your goal might be – going back to school, reducing your clutter, losing some weight, getting back into an exercise routine – we drift back into our familiar patterns unless we have a seriously motivating WHY to encourage us to make change, one step (one decision) at a time.
Every morning is a new day, with its own challenges ahead – it will provide us with ample opportunity to live into our intentions or to slide back into our familiar patterns. Unless we know WHY it is worth the time, effort & energy to change (to choose differently than we ordinarily would) we’re inclined to postpone the opportunity to change now. That gets us stuck in the contemplation stage – thinking about changing, but not actually doing it!
Where do you find yourself as you contemplate the changes YOU want to make?
- Precontemplation is the stage at which there is no intention to change behavior in the foreseeable future. Many individuals in this stage are unaware or under-aware of their problems.
- Contemplation is the stage in which people are aware that a problem exists and are seriously thinking about overcoming it but have not yet made a commitment to take action.
- Preparation stage can be considered the information gathering and planning stage. The preparation stage is important. Fifty percent of the people who attempt behavior change and skip this stage will relapse within 21 days, according to Prochaska in his book, Changing for Good.
- Action is the stage in which individuals modify their behavior, experiences, or environment in order to overcome their problems. Action involves the most overt behavioral changes and requires considerable commitment of time and energy. During the action stage, one implements the plans developed and information gathered in the preparation stage.
- Maintenance is the stage in which people work to prevent relapse and consolidate the gains attained during action. For addictive behaviors this stage extends from six months to an indeterminate period past the initial action.
I’m longing to be in Maintenance stage, but I have a long road ahead before that is true of me! I’m working to incorporate all I’ve learned about self-compassion into a pattern of self-talk that’s more gentle than critical as I practice my way through new behaviors and choices. What changes confront of you this year? Would you welcome some help, encouragement or coaching as you attempt to make them? I’m happy to be “there with you” as you commit to YOUR WHY each and every day, regardless of the stage you’re in right now!