Finishing Strong in 2017
By Laura Wagner, licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT) and certified life coach
Veterans Day reminds us of the bravery and sacrifices of those who’ve served our country so that we may have the freedom to create the best lives possible for ourselves and our families.
Maybe you started this year with goals for better health, and you feel that while you’ve made some in-roads, there’s still work to do. Or perhaps you encountered stress or pesonal trauma this year that has left you tired or even fearful of moving forward.
While I can’t give you a “teflon tool” for breezing through the complex manifestations of post-traumatic stress, I can offer you some tips and guidance to tap into your resilience to grow, change and persevere. Self-care is not a priority that should be shelved until January.
Here are three easy ways to recommit to you, begin anew and head into 2018 with a spirit of courage and determination.
1. Big goals require small commitments
The good news about change and transformation is that it doesn’t have to be about dramatic leaps that turn your life upside down. Many times, change is uncomfortable, but you can have your own back if you look at your big goals and make small commitments to see them through.
For example, if you want to begin a fitness regimen to feel stronger and more powerful, then going to the gym six days a week to attack new fitness classes and unfamiliar equipment may not only burn you out, but could also be dangerous. Instead, you could create a goal of committing to some form of movement a few days a week.
You could build towards your bigger goal by committing to trying something new or more challenging each week and checking in with your body to see how that feels. Over time, those small commitments become realized goals, and maybe even a new way to live your life.
2. Consistency is Key
Doing the same things over and over again may not seem very exciting or chic, but consistency is the universal combination code to unlock personal transformation. If you put your small commitments into place and stick with them, you can create your own motivation. You do not have to look for it outside of yourself if you put it on your calendar and in your mind to get it done.
I teach my clients that if they are consistent with thoughts and actions, they can literally rewire their brains, and therein, change their lives.
Here are a few suggestions for adding consistency to your health journey in order to to contribute to your overall mental wellness:
Use a calendar and choose specific days or a specific time of day to exercise.
Have a menu of certain meals you like that are reliable and easy to create.
Organize shoes and clothing together the night before.
Partner with a friend or a group for accountability
3. Show up where others may have given up
Don’t follow the crowd or what the calendar dictates you should be doing. If you want, for example, inspiration and motivation to take care of your body and work out consistently, then don’t wait to go to the gym in January. Go now.
Go now when there are warriors putting in the time to make their health a priority—even on the days when some of them, perhaps working through their own personal struggle, may not have felt like it.
The gym will be jam-packed with people come January 1, and certainly that is a good thing, because fresh starts keep the world going round, but give yourself the advantage of a head start.
When you decide that everyday is a fresh start and that you will surround yourself with people who are in-it-to-win-it whether it’s January, July or November, then that spirit is contagious. We can do it. VT