The Importance of Knowing Yourself

Whether you’re a fan of New Year’s resolutions or not, January does bring that sense of looking forward to the year ahead, wondering what might happen, thinking about what you might want to be different in your life.

For many years I made resolutions and they always started with the classics: 

Exercise more

Drink less

Eat healthier 

Don’t leave next year’s tax return to the last minute etc

And, despite my best intentions, within a month or so, I would inevitably fail at all of them, like the majority of the population. 

I don’t make resolutions anymore as I prefer a few short term, doable, goals just to kick start the year (eg. I’ve given up alcohol for 3 months – see last week’s post if you missed that one). And I also like to set an intention or two, for the year, such as to have more fun. However it occurred to me that if I did still make resolutions I wouldn’t actually need any of my old ones anymore. I’m pretty fit and exercise about 5-6 times a week, I eat (mostly) a very healthy plant-based diet that I feel great on, I’d already cut down hugely on alcohol, before my 3 month challenge, and I’ve actually done my tax return before January for the first time. And it was quite a surprise to recognise this shift. 

So what has changed? How am I this reformed person after literally YEARS of needing to write the same resolutions every year?

Well in all cases I found something that works for me. Let’s take an example of getting fit and exercising more. Imagine if I had a friend and she had got really fit through swimming and loved it, she really enjoyed it, raved about it and looked amazing. I might have thought ‘Wow, I want some of that’ and gone & got a swim membership. If I had it would have been a disaster cos I fundamentally don’t really like swimming (for me it’s boring, you can’t chat, I hate chlorine, I’m not that good at it, the changing rooms have slimy, wet floors etc). Instead I’ve finally found several types of exercise that I like doing, all with company, AND I book it into my diary every week & prioritise it. This, for me, makes exercising easy and something I miss if I can’t do it for some reason. My top tip for anyone with exercising is to forget the latest fad or what a magazine / friend is raving about, and think about what you love to do and find a way of combining it with moving, that fits into your life. In particular do you want company or need head space? Do you prefer a goal or challenge? Do you prefer outdoors or in? Would booking a term of sessions help you or feel too constraining? Do you love music and does it make you want to move? Do you prefer to exercise in the morning / lunchtime / evening? Does it have to include your baby / toddler?! Notice that none of these are looking at what the exercise actually is, they are all about the general features of it. 

The same applies to your general diet. A particular way of eating might sound great in theory but if it involves lots of individual meal preparation, perhaps separate from what you are making for other family members, is it going to be sustainable? Or maybe that is preferable for you? How can it fit into your life? Can you still go out with friends for dinner? Does it include foods you like eating? How do you feel when you eat those foods? Mentally as well as physically? Can the whole family adopt it to minimise prep? Is it easy to shop for? Is there enough variety or will it get boring? (I saw a program featuring the potato diet recently – just potatoes all day long, every day for a week. That’s an awful lot of potatoes!). 

And I’ve even found a way to get my admin done in an enjoyable fashion via doing it while on a group Skype call with other admin-challenged coach friends. Once a month we gather online, have a lovely chat, then get on with our admin. The result was up to date Accounts all year and hence a much easier job to do my tax return. Again I found something that worked for me – in this case the boring admin was livened up with chat and company. 

Now it can take a while to figure out what will work for you so it’s worth trying different things in a dip your toe in sort of way, rather than an all-out dive in the deep end. Keep checking in with ‘Is this working?’, ‘Am I enjoying it (the food/class etc)?’, ‘Is this achieving what I want?’ etc. Perhaps rather than a whole list of tricky resolutions you could just have an intention or two? One of which could be to find what really works for you. Please like/comment/share. Sue X

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