It’s that time of year when health is back on the to-do list. Woohoo, round of applause everyone! We have a moment in the calendar! Getting fit and turning over a new leaf is high on the agenda. Whether guilt is the driver because of the indulgence of the last few days or a renewed perspective with some time off, now more than any other time people are planning, scheming and enjoying their last few days of freedom before they ‘get serious’?!? This mindset in itself is enough to give us a few clues and having had a lot of these conversations over the last few weeks I thought I would share some insight into those clues to set you up for success.
You’re not lazy.
We are a social creature; our species has been storytelling, comparing and working together for thousands of years now. We are at a point where we have never socialised this much before. The tendency when using social media or seeing others’ achievements in the headlines is for the internal narrative to turn to ‘hopeless’, ‘worthless’ or ‘lazy’. None of these labels inspire us to attempt or try anything new. Right now if you’re thinking about ‘resetting’ in the new year, here is my suggestion, don’t add things in, first begin by subtracting. Imagine your daily output like bandwidth, right now you’re already running at ‘5G’ on the NBN juggling career, family, leisure, social, and did I mention your health. Adding more to this list in any area is only going to lead to more evidence of the ‘I’m lazy’ story because you’re overwhelmed rather than inspired. Here are a couple of tips to frame your New Year!
No quick fixes
Beware the silver bullet, latest potion or secret elixir. We have all been guilty of falling victim to the ‘next big promise’. When the newest powder or diet fails to deliver the desired result, we take that on ourselves, adding more evidence to the ‘too hard basket’ of health. Don’t take it on in the first place; look at these things as ‘sexy marketing’ attempts for symptom-relieving strategies rather than root causes remedies. If ‘youfoodz’ is on the agenda for January, then recognise this is solving a time issue, taking some pressure off the daily routine. Once we stop the ‘ready-made meals’ though, that problem is back on us to solve. The symptom quickly returns, if this isn’t a long term solution to your meal preparation then looking at the use of your time, where you can create some easy wins and manage it more efficiently would be worthwhile. One lady I work with started each evening time meal by setting aside her lunch for the day after. Suddenly without having to think about ‘lunch on the run’ every day, this savvy mum has some mental energy back. Her bandwidth isn’t overwhelmed; the gym is suddenly looking a lot more doable! This lady, a great example of someone that isn’t lazy but often felt it. My biggest tip with this one is rather than look at external remedies or elixirs, think about the actions that you can take, one that doesn’t involve you paying $3000 for a fasting protocol. What simple step can you make today to buy back some bandwidth?
I am always amazed at how much a human can achieve given enough momentum. One of my favourite professional experiences has been working with one gentleman over several years, convincing him to run his first 5km fun run to now having finished his second 42km marathon! He never started with that goal but became a runner and in the process ticked the 10km, 21km and finally the 42km. We need to give ourselves that opportunity to build small win atop small win. Right now, I’m asking you to gain insight from the last month or 3 or 12 of your own life. What are you currently doing that is taking away rather than adding to your life? Is the latest Netflix binge serving the person heading to New Year’s celebrations in 2021? Would a limit on Netflix exposure be a worthwhile strategy in 2020? What if we looked at your current exercise output? Rather than starting 2020 with a promise to get six sessions in week 1, what if you promised yourself to execute on one more workout per week? Don’t worry guys if that means one in total you’re still creating momentum; you just improved by 100%!
Frame January as the trial out period. Put the new actions on probation, most of the time, exercise and eating well have longer-term gains rather than shorter-term gratification. Give it a three-week trial, see if you notice anything? Approach it with curiosity. Try out the ‘new way’, rather than put yourself on trial with those actions becoming judge, jury and executioner! You may find that the current you isn’t that bad, with a little more respect and compassion, turns out he is a pretty decent guy. Heck, he might even benefit from a break up with the cynical bloke on the other side of the mirror.
Control your input
The next point and probably the most important, environmental science is perhaps the most powerful of all factors in the success of your 2020’s health pursuits. Friends, parents, podcasts, documentaries, sporting clubs, social media feeds these all impact the way you view you! Just remember if you don’t need fixing you’re probably not purchasing, and you’re not making anyone else feel better about themselves in the comparison race! If we can surround ourselves with people that want the best for us, support us in our attempts to achieve that and inspire us with their efforts to do the same, well, we may have just found your secret sauce! What, in 2019 had the most significant positive impact on you? What do you need to subtract to allow you more time listening, conversing and be inspired by that? This time last year what advice would you have given yourself knowing how the year ahead had played out?
When looking at the new year new you, think of the current you and pat yourself on the back first. You’re not lazy; you’re probably prioritising other things rather than being lazy. Beware the quick fix, look to root causes. Remedy those through actions that build upon each other, gain momentum! Give these actions a trial in isolation, subtract from your current output with ‘binge-watching Netflix’ replaced by (insert new activity here: meditation, exercise, meal preparation, a phone call to a friend) something that’s going to add value to your life. From here assess, is your FB news feed helping or hindering your attempts to build that momentum? What peeps in your life are supporting and which ones aren’t? Finally, do it all with kindness, the SAS style yelling has its moment in the sun but the more we learn about the human potential, the more we understand that self-compassion and humour are some of our most exceptional skills, not weaknesses.
Happy New Year to the you, you deserve to be!