You-Choose Self Improvement

June 15th, 2011 by Amy Gonsalves Leave a reply »

I think we all have a long list of things we’d like to improve on in our lives.  It’s something we discuss every January first and by now have probably long forgotten.  We’ve watched our kids graduate from kindergarten to first grade, from eighth grade to high school, and endured countless (never ending) baseball games and dance recitals along the way.

As life goes on, making these dramatic changes we wanted six months ago now feels like an impossible task.

So here’s a little list of ways to make small achievable goals work for you.

1. Start small.  If you put yourself at the foot of a “lose 50 pounds” mountain and keep your eye on that prize, every day you haven’t lost 50 pounds can feel like a failure.  But if you say to yourself “I’m going to do what I can today to get closer to my goal” and take small steps, you can get there.

2. Be kind.  Of course you can’t change yourself overnight; if we could, we would all do it!  So be very kind to yourself about any and all progress you make—and recognize that a few steps in the other direction doesn’t mean you’ll never reach your goal.  Refocus and be kind to yourself if you want to reach your goal.

3. Stay small. I can’t stress enough how important it is to make little changes before you make big changes.  A big change is stressful; a small change is almost imperceptible.  If I had you lift 20 pound dumbbells on your first day, you probably wouldn’t be able to do it for long.  But if you start small with 5 pound dumbbells and keep at those until they don’t feel as heavy, you may not notice that change to 8 pounds.  Eventually, you’ll be able to use 15s or even 20s if you keep your changes manageable.  

When I say “small goals” I mean a goal like “I’m going to stretch for 8 minutes three days a week.”  (That’s the commercial time for a half hour show if you watch TV in real time!)  Or, “I’m going to treat my lows with juice instead of candy this week.”  It’s all relative, but keeping them small keeps them manageable.

4. Be consistent. Although you will falter along your way, keep your goal in mind: you need to still keep your goal in sight if you want to reach it!  A step to the side or even backwards is fine and not going to derail you—if you stay consistent and don’t let it be the end.

5. Write it down. I think this is the one we all skip.  But if you’re a list-keeper, don’t you feel like you get more accomplished on the days you write a list?  I’ve been known to write things on my list I’ve already accomplished, just to enjoy crossing it off.  But writing a list of where you want to go that includes the small steps along the way will help keep you focused.  It’s worth a piece of paper.

6. Look back.  If you are on that mountain and climbing but feel like you’re lagging or that you’ll never reach your goal, absolutely take some time to think about where you’ve been and what you’ve already accomplished.  You’ll probably amaze yourself—and that may be just the boost you need to keep going.

7. Move forward. In general, movement in any direction is better than standing still.  When it comes to goals, though, moving forward is essential.  Moving at a glacial pace is fine, so long as you keep moving toward your goal.

The bottom line is: you are the one who chooses the goals you set.  You could have no goals and not change at all—but because you want more out of your life, you are going to put in some effort and get where you want to be.

That right there is pretty awesome, if you ask me!

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