Tuesday, January 3, 2012

TUESDAY TIP: Start Where You Are

What could be more obvious? Where else would you start, right?

But how many times do we decide to wait until ?

...until Monday.

...until I'm in a better frame of mind.

...until my life calms back down.

...until I can afford a gym membership.

...until the kids are in school.

...until after the holidays.

Occasionally, this actually works. If you set a realistic start date not too far into the future and really plan toward that date, you may help facilitate your own success. 

Too often, though, it doesn't turn out that way.

Monday passes or school starts and we come up with a new reason to procrastinate, moving our deadline farther into the future. In the meantime, we put off taking proper care of our bodies and probably feel pretty bad about ourselves for it.

Of course, it's only January 3rd, so there's a good chance you're fully motivated and on track with your 2012 goals, at this point. If so, that's fantastic! 

But maybe, like me, your new year got off to a rockier start than you anticipated, or experience has taught you not to even make new year's resolutions. You may remember too many worthwhile projects or good intentions that you didn't follow through on.

For whatever reason, you may just not be in the mood.

That's okay. You don't have to be in the mood, and it doesn't have to be Monday or warm enough to walk outside. You don't have to have your fridge carefully stocked with fresh organic veggies and a spotless house. There's no need to wait until you can do everything perfectly, because--let's face it--that day never comes. No matter how committed or determined we may (or may not) be, some things are beyond our control. That's okay, too. Because we simply start wherever we are: each day, each hour, each minute.

Life can feel wonderful, on occasion, and I hope you are enjoying one of those occasions right now. At other times, however, those all-systems-go experiences feel like distant memories, and life can be downright overwhelming. Especially in those moments, the ability to move forward is often less about things we should add to our to do lists than about things we can stop doing to ourselves.

Whether you are high are on the mountaintop, deep in the valley, or somewhere along the hillside, you can take the next step toward health. It doesn't have to be a big deal unless you want it to be. My Tuesday tip is to not wait for fireworks--or for anything else.

Start wherever you are in this moment.

If you have a tip to share, I'd love to read it in the comments below!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Starting Fresh

“Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans.”
                                                                                            ~ John Lennon

It's the beginning of a new year, and people have been reviewing the last 12 months, formulating new goals, and setting new year's resolutions. There's something undeniably appealing about a fresh start.

I'm not arguing against any of these practices, but I am mindful of the fact that January 1st gets a lot of hype and high expectation even though, frankly, many resolutions don't have a great track record.

Nonetheless, I try to be optimistic about January 1st and usually ring in the new year with high hopes, so I was disappointed to find myself feeling ill only a couple of hours into 2012. Fortunately, it must have been some minor 24-hr bug, because I'm already feeling much better, but my big plans for the first day of the year and how I was going to get off to a great start completely tanked. I wasn't well enough to exercise, clean, organize, or do much of anything. Thankfully, by January 2nd I was not as weak as I had been the day before, but I still wasn't nearly well enough to jump in to any resolutions with both feet. 

I mention this little saga not to evoke sympathy (okay--mostly not) but because it was a great example of how the famous John Lennon quote above applies even on special occasions.

There's no denying that life doesn't always go according to plan, and I have to confess that I'm not nearly as excited about cautiously easing into my game plan this week as I was about enthusiastically jumping in on day one, but maybe it will be a good thing in the long run. There's a downside to assigning almost magical powers to any one particular day on the calendar when it comes to planning: if anything goes wrong, the whole plan may collapse like a house of cards.

In spite of all the hoopla about the new year, January 1st is in many ways a day just like any other.  If you get sick that day, you don't have to wait until another January 1st rolls around to re-start your plans, whatever they may be. By the same token, if you didn't get in gear and set goals yet for the new year, that doesn't mean you are too late.

At the end of the day, there's no real magic to starting anything on January 1st (or on Monday or after your vacation, or when the weather improves or you have more money...). 

You can make a fresh start any day. 

And there's no time like the present.