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There Is No Finish Line (so get off the hamster wheel)

So the first month of 2016 has flown by and embedded us firmly in the new year. How are those resolutions working so far? Are we making progress in the "new year, new you" commitment? Hitting the gym and dropping a pant size? Drinking a gallon of water? Are our commitments non-weight related, like reading more, watching less tv? Whatever they may be, are we staying on track?

I'm not a big believer in making a resolution at New Year's, but I do like to set goals. Measurable goals. Usually short-term. Some long-term but with an open mind that life may have other ideas for me. And that's ok for me. For instance, last year, I decided I needed to slow down. My stress level was high, anxiety was moderate to severe, and my physical and mental health was suffering. AGAIN. But this time, I committed to making a change. In a yoga instructor workshop, I forced myself to let go of my drive to compete, let go of my inner critic, and opened myself up to what that would feel like. I deliberately moved slowly in the flow of poses in class instead of trying to keep up and "do better" than those around me. As a result, I felt powerful and strong. I felt emotions in the flow. I listened to my body. And I was elated. I learned that it was absolutely possible for me to slow down and the world not come to an end. Applying that mindset to my day-to-day world has been a goal for me ever since. I've been told that I like to "boil the ocean", so breathing, mentally checking in with myself, and hitting the restart button is a daily practice now. And I am beginning to see and feel the difference. I'm beginning to sleep better. My digestion has improved. My heart no longer races. External things trigger anxiety less and less. I am aware that I need to do one thing at a time.

How do we set goals? And how do we achieve them? I had this conversation with a nurse coaching patient today. We kinda know the importance of having a goal to work toward, but how do we use the tools on our toolbelt to get there? First, make your goal specific and measurable. For instance, most of us say we need to lose weight or eat better. We can begin the journey with setting a goal like this: I will drink more water by keeping a water bottle in the car and drinking 8 oz of water with each meal. Or something like this: I will make a meal plan for the week on Sunday when I get groceries by writing it down and listing the ingredients I need on my grocery list. Make the decision to set an exercise goal by saying: I will prepare for exercise by putting it on the calendar three days a week, or by having clean workout gear ready. These are short-term goals with the possible long-term goals being weight loss or lower cholesterol or blood pressure. They are measurable and tangible goals. And completely reachable.

We can make our goals for whatever it is we need as individuals. And in the making of goals, we also need to remember to be kind to ourselves if we need more time attaining them. Finding forgiveness for ourselves in the process. I left my nurse coaching patient with some tools for the toolbelt for empowerment. I WILL....... I AM...... because whatever we put behind those two words shape who we will become and who we believe ourselves to be.

Achieving our goals is a great feeling of accomplishment; however, we need to have an awareness of the journey itself, the experience. Because there is no finish line, so slow it down, get off the hamster wheel. Enjoy the growth process of life. In closing, I'll leave us with a quotation from Kristy Manual, "Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Choose your words, for they become actions. Understand your actions, for they become habits. Study your habits, for they will become your character. Develop your character, for it becomes your destiny."


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