For most people January is time to implement (or not) New Year’s resolutions. For others it is time to roll out well-thought out plans to attain specific goals. I am in the second category. I spent some time in November reviewing my 2018 objectives, looking at what I had achieved and what had been more challenging. I then set up my 2019 objectives together with an action plan to make it happen.
Why January is not the right time to start a new plan
Either way when January kicks in we feel like we should get in the starting blocks and go!
But is this such a good idea? January may be the start of our calendar year but it is still right in the middle of winter when nature is taking a well-deserved break. So why do we feel like this is the right time for us to take on the world?
What would make a lot more sense (and follow our biology) would be to start our new plans, routines, etc. in spring, when the days are that tiny bit longer and nature wakes up.
So how we do reconcile the two? We have a couple of options. The most logical one would be to simply hibernate until March and use January and February to plan the March 2019 to February 2020 period. I am a huge fan of winter hibernation and I make full use of it but more on than later.
But since society has decided that New Year’s resolutions should apply in January, the other option is start now but to be gentle.
Remember the story of the hare and the tortoise. Perseverance beats speed anytime. What you do not want to do is to be one of those who join the gym In January and stop going in February. If you go all in from January 2nd (assuming you are nursing a hangover on January 1st…) you will soon exhaust yourself and will stop very quickly indeed.
Instead (keeping the fitness example above) you could build yourself a plan that takes into account your current level of fitness and fits with what you are already doing or not doing. If you are currently exercising once a week, just add a second session per week. Don’t suddenly plan to exercise every day. Your body will not follow. You will run out of steam fast and might even injure yourself.
Make a plan that is realistic so that you are actually able to stick to it.
You may have given yourself the ambitious goal of being able to run 10K by December 2019 when you are currently only able to run for 20 minutes steadily. Don’t jump the gun by suddenly trying to run 7k. You won’t be able to do it and this will be so disheartening that you will give up.
And that would be a shame because this is a completely achievable goal as long as you go about it in the right way. You could start by going for a run once a week for 20 minutes and gently increase the duration once in a while. You will get to 1 hour within a few months and then it will be a matter of working on your speed.
Chunk the big goal into a series of small goals or milestones and it will look a lot more achievable.
Follow your own flow
Pay attention to your energy levels and respect them. Personally I found it hard to burst with energy in January and February due to the long nights and cold days. So if you feel tired, stop, rest and look after yourself. There is nothing wrong with that.
One good way to become more attuned to your energy levels is to hold an energy diary. Keep a small notebook with you and write down every hour how you are feeling and what you doing. Patterns will emerge. You will find that life gets easier when you are in flow with your energy rather than when you are consistently fighting against it.
If you want to deep dive into this subject, I strongly recommend you read Perfect Health by Deepak Chopra. This is where, 5 years ago, I discovered that I had the opposite lifestyle to the lifestyle my body needed to function at its best! I made the recommended changes and have found life much easier since then. Just for starters my immune system has greatly improved.
Do not compare yourself to others
Stop looking at what your best friend is doing in January. It’s her story, not yours. Focus on yourself and what is right for you right now. Everyone is on a different path. If you want to measure your progress then compare yourself to yourself from 6 months ago. That is the only comparison worth doing.
This is something that I personally have to constantly remind myself about. My new housemate is super fit. He exercises at least 5 times a week and sometimes more. His workouts are pretty intense too. He eats all the right things and only has a few drinks at the weekend, never on a weekday.
I am nowhere near this good and of course I compare! Which makes no sense whatsoever because he has been on this journey for years and I haven’t. So instead of comparing myself I have decided to use him as a model. I look at his lifestyle as the goal I would like to reach at some point in the future (note I didn’t say tomorrow!) and start slowly and gently to implement little things. I am also taking full advantage of his knowledge of fitness by asking a million questions and I have even managed to convince him to be my personal trainer!
So now instead of feeling bad for eating cheese when he eats vegetables, I eat vegetables too and feel better about myself for taking a small but important step in the right direction.
Take it easy!
Intellectual Property lawyer by day, blogger and life coach by night. Having suffered from depression on and off over 20 years, Emilie has done extensive research on the subject and worked out a system to manage depression without medication through having a healthy lifestyle. She shares her experience and tips on her blog https://memyhealthandi.org/
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