Putting aside what may have gone wrong for a moment, think back to how you were left feeling. If you’re like a lot of people, you were probably extremely frustrated. I can even imagine that tiny, ugly voice in the back of your mind calling you all sorts of names. Compounding
Does any of this sound familiar?
I’d like to suggest trying something different. Even if you are a total go-getter and get excited about coming up with your next master plan, add a little caution to the recipe.
Instead of making a plan, run an experiment. Test the strategies you’re going to use to [enter your goal here]. Commit to one experiment for a few weeks and see how things go. Depending on the results, you might want to consider making a few changes or possibly even test a new set of strategies. Commit to testing these new strategies for a few weeks and see how things go. Keep modifying and revising your strategies until you hit the sweet spot.
Let's make it practical. Let’s say your goal is to lose twenty pounds. You have a goal of losing 1 pound each week (making your big goal more manageable). Your first test is to get to the gym four days each week for an hour and cut back on refined sugars. Four days feel manageable, especially because two of them will be on the weekend when your schedule has more room to stretch. Cutting back on those Hershey kisses might be a little harder, but the benefits (preventing cavities, weight loss, level blood sugars) far outweigh their delicious, bite-sized goodness! So try it for three weeks. If you find that you can’t get away from the chocolate and four one-hour days at the gym each week is totally overwhelming, don’t throw away your goal. Remember all the great reasons you set that goal in the first place! Those reasons haven’t changed. It’s just time to experiment with a new set of strategies. Figure out what worked and didn’t work about the first experiment and start playing around with something new. Maybe having a walking buddy for weekly walks could diversify your workout routine. Instead of restricting all sweets, start by cutting your servings in half.
The key is to stay hopeful and don’t give up!
So why is it that we get SO discouraged?
Well, with any change we experience things like anticipation, excitement, and even fear. Our expectations shift. We may begin looking forward to the vision we create for ourselves. Or we may be afraid to take the leap. Whatever the feelings associated with the change, we feel the loss when things don’t turn out the way we expected. For some of us, we may be reinforcing the messages we’ve either heard or give ourselves – “I’m not good enough. I don’t deserve better. Why bother?” (Those pesky gremlins!) But what would you tell your child if at first they don’t succeed? Or your best friend? When a baby falls after trying to take a step, we don’t start planning a lifetime of crawling. We pick them up, put them back on their feet and commence cheer leading!
I find reframing from a plan to an experiment a great way to adjust those expectations from the start. Keep up the hard work!