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  • Dr. Joy Stevens

This is Your Year

What is it that you REALLY want to be able to do this year? What is the one specific thing that can motivate you day after day? Perhaps it is being able to trot around the yard with the grandkids and not simply watch from a chair on side. Maybe you want to have the stamina to be able to grocery shop and not get winded. It may be you're a numbers person and you want to improve your A1c or your lipids and prove your skeptical health care providers wrong. Maybe it's something from your youth that you had wanted to do but didn't. It can be a little thing or big thing. The only thing that matters is that it is important to you, important enough to you to keep you motivated. What is that ONE thing?

Working on ourselves difficult. Why is that? I pondered this question a lot last year. Projects around the house or yard are piece of cake in comparison. They may take awhile to finish, but they always get done and get done well. Yet the most important project is ourselves and personally that is where I have always struggled. Why the difference?

Both start with imagining the finish, the goal. Both require planning, gathering any necessary information and/or materials, and executing. Sounds so simple, huh?

Yet when it comes to ourselves, are we precise enough in the goal to be able to properly plan? There's a big difference between "I want a new throw pillow" and "I am going to sew a new 18" x 18" yellow throw pillow for the basement couch." The former is so nebulous as to be inactionable. Where does one even start? Randomly shop some store and hope you stumble upon something that might work? The latter is actionable. The size is known, the color is known, and obviously the start is at a fabric store to find material that will coordinate with that specific sofa.

How often do we make nebulous goals for ourselves? "I want to lose weight." "I want to get in shape." How can we blame ourselves for not even starting? That's why I asked what is your one specific goal. What is it that you want to do? Once you figure that out, you can put together a plan on how to accomplish it. "I want to lose 10 pounds by eating healthier." By knowing you want to lose 10 pounds, you know when the goal is accomplished. And you know you want to do it by eating healthier instead of via counting and cutting calories. Now you can start researching how the various ways of changing what you eat affects your weight. You can put a plan together. See the difference? Let's look at the other one. "I want to get in shape." What does that even mean? In shape to do what? Getting in shape to climb Mt. Everest is quite different than getting in shape to play on the beach with the kids. For the latter one, your plan may be to start with gentle walks around the block after dinner, eventually lengthening the time, the distance, and working some hills into the route.

But the one big thing, the one huge difference between a project and working on ourselves is that we can put the project aside for a week or a month and when we return to it, gardening projects being an obvious exception, it is in the same condition as when we left it. Not so with ourselves. If we return to a crap food diet, we are going to gain weight and lose health. If we hang on the couch after dinner instead of walking, we are going to lose some of the hard fought gains. When the project is ourselves, we have to be diligent about working on it at every opportunity and not letting it fall to the wayside. Sure, some days are going to be better than others, that happens to all of us, but when you're motivated by a specific goal, when you always have your eyes on the prize, it is much easier to sustain the momentum. If you sustain the momentum, you will reach your goal!

Happy New Year everyone! Now go forward and conquer 2020!

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