What If We Stop Starting Over?
January is the time of year when people set a resolution to do start a new diet or stop drinking or do something to improve their lives in some way. The intention behind a resolution at the start of the year is to start fresh, to start over. But what if we stop starting over?
When we have this “either/or” mentality sometimes we set ourselves up for failure. This happens a lot when we have a resolution coming up. Many people eat and drink excessively over the holiday season and will “start over” January 1st. The problem with that mentality, is that it is not so easy to stick to this rigid thinking once we start, oftentimes leading to the feeling of failure.
I typically encourage people instead to envision the life they want to lead. Really sit in deep thought, meditate on what a life they love looks like. What would they wear, what would they eat… where would they vacation, who would they be around. Take some time to do this exercise. Get specific, get detailed. No dream is too big or too extravagant, this is YOUR one life we are talking about here!!
Once you have the ideal version of you and the ideal life you are living all mapped out, that is the context we will use to make decisions moving forward. In this way, we will use a cognitive reframing technique where instead of “starting over”, you can just “keep going” towards that ideal version of yourself.
We can think of the reframe in this way… if you were to leave on a road trip and got a flat tire, would you drive back home to start over or would you keep going from where you got sidetracked?
You would keep going. And that’s how we need to look at life’s setbacks.
When we have a slip with alcohol or eat something off the planned diet or fail to follow through with our exercise plans, we give ourselves permission to stop momentum towards any goal. It’s the “all or nothing” mindset that puts us in this mentality of feeling like we have ‘failed’. But progress is not always linear. In fact, most paths have twists and turns, they are not all straight lines towards the destination.
Give yourself permission to stop starting over and just keep moving forward. Sometimes we don’t need to be more disciplined or harder on ourselves or our loved ones. In fact, most times we need to acknowledge all the work we have done and how far we have come. That doesn’t mean we abandon our goals, but it can mean we can be satisfied with where we are right now.
None of the lessons we learn, no matter how painful or hard they are for us, are failures. Experience teaches us what works and what doesn’t work and how to have a more flexible attitude towards how we view our progress.
So, if you find yourself judging the progress you have or haven’t made on goals you set for yourself at the start of 2021 or for the New Year, just readjust your expectations and keep it moving!! You can keep going towards whatever you set out to achieve but maybe how you get there looks different. Have the courage to keep going anyway.