Anyone: So, what’s your resolution this year?
Me: I need to lose 30 pounds.
Anyone: Wasn’t that your resolution last year?
Me: No, last year it was 20 pounds. A**hole.
For the last couple of decades or so, my primary self-improvement goal has been to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Despite approximately three to seven million attempts toward this goal, I have been largely, pun intended, unsuccessful.
This year I decided to do something different. Something I should have done a long time ago. I’m going to take my own advice.
All of my clients have goals. Some of them do a fabulous job consistently meeting those goals. Some of them, like their otherwise very capable psychotherapist, have a little trouble. They procrastinate. They do great for a few days or weeks and then succumb to an epic fail that lasts for weeks or months or more, after which they often feel terribly dejected and unmotivated.
I often ask those clients to consider the following:
Ever hear the saying, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss it, you will land among the stars,” by Les Brown?
Nice idea. Even nicer visual. But not always true. Certainly not true for me or many of my clients. Every year that I “shoot for the moon” by way of plunging head first into some new eating plan and/or workout plan, I eventually wind up barely making it off the couch.
Sometimes our “I’m gonna do everything!” goals overwhelm us into doing nothing. Thus, a much more effective plan is to shoot for things a lot closer than the moon, and slowly climb up from there.
Hitting the gym for at least 30 minutes, five days a week, is an excellent goal and I hope to accomplish it one day. But for now and over the last decade or so, it just. ain’t. happening. When I consider hitting the gym three days a week? No. It still feels overwhelming. One day a week for five minutes? Okay, even I can do that.
Five minutes a week of gym time is not enough to make a significant impact on your physical health, of course, but when you set and accomplish an easy goal, you build momentum. “A body in motion tends to stay in motion,” as they say.
In short, the one simple goal that I promised myself is this:
Take at least one single step toward your ultimate goal, every single day.
Even if the step feels tiny. Go to the gym for five minutes. Eat one healthy meal. Get up five minutes earlier. Drink one extra glass of water. The following day try for six minutes at the gym, two glass of water, and so on.
If you set a goal and find yourself procrastinating, consider that the goal may be too big. Make it smaller and smaller until you do it. Increase as you are able.
Keep moving in the right direction.
PS. If you find yourself stuck in a pattern that is keeping you from reaching your goals, one small-ish but very significant step in the right direction is to make an appointment with a therapist. Everyone needs help sometimes. Someone to keep us accountable, someone to offer an objective and professional perspective.
And that includes me.
I have recently taken a step toward working with a therapist on my repetitive New Years Resolutions.
Wish me luck.