How Far Are You Swinging?

Hi there. You might remember me from such blogs that were last written in November last year. Or even the one before in October where I talked about struggling to consciously miss the September blog. You see, I do love a bit of self-improvement. It can sometimes look like I’m taking a bit of a journey in a circle, coming right back to where I started, but you know what? I think it is necessary to check things out, especially if you are comfortable, to really truly grow. December …. Why did I miss December after struggling so much to consciously miss September’s blog? I really felt like I swung in the complete opposite direction, where I was that comfortable in the thought of missing the December blog, it allowed me to truly relax over the break. I did garden projects with no end date. I read books on the couch while drinking wine with no clock ticking (#gymdog’s stomach clock aside). I cleaned out stuff from the house that hadn’t been used since I moved in (that experience was very cleansing). Completely relaxed. Not something I do very often.

Once upon a time, a long time ago, in another life, I did a job where I challenged people’s comfort zones, paradigms and values pretty much on a daily basis. It was a job I really enjoyed and I learnt a lot about myself in the process. One thing I found to be true, no matter how many different types of people I challenged, is that when people take on feedback, they will swing like a pendulum. It’s quite fascinating to watch actually, because more often than not, that full swing in the opposite direction, doesn’t actually work for them either. At the time they don’t realise they have swung so far in the opposite direction and their reactions are usually full of frustration, not understanding why, when they took on the feedback, that this didn’t work either. The accusations sent my way “you told me that I had to change this, that changing it would make me better! Why didn’t you tell me this wouldn’t work either??” See that’s the thing about feedback. When you take on feedback, you should probably also take responsibility for how that change is going to turn out. Afterall, they are still your actions.

This brings me to January. To New Year’s resolutions! I might have talked a bit about them last year around the same time. I might have said I don’t really believe in them. That I feel like if you are going to make a change, do it in the next minute, don’t wait for the start of a New Year to make yourself better. You have 60 opportunities, every single minute of every single day, to start being a better version of you. I don’t even know what makes January, the start of a New Year any different to what tomorrow could do for you. The sun rises and sets just the same on 1 January the same as is does the other 364 days of the year. Why is this one so special and inspirational to get people to commit to such amazing changes that every other day of the year falls short on? I have some theories … mostly involving marketing, social expectations and the power of social media. But that aside, why is the pull to make such dramatic changes to ones life at the beginning of the year so damn strong?

This also leads back (in a circle) to where I started. It’s that whole pendulum effect. Let’s take fitness as the example. It is well documented and probably one of the more popular new years resolutions. “This year I’m going to get fit!” Gym memberships are purchased, active wear is over used (like that’s even a thing) and EVERYONE knows you have a gym membership because that’s all you talk about. Often this is a complete pendulum behavior for people who have let exercise slip or have never exercised and have then decided this is the year! This can sometimes be a bit too much because while trying out all the new things the gym has to offer, their bodies aren’t getting enough time to recover. People may be experiencing delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) all the time and think “if this is how I’m going to feel while trying to get fit, then I’m done!” and the new years resolution is broken. I recently had a conversation with my sister about this very thing which validated my thought process. We’ve all seen the memes of what the gym looks like on 1 January and then what it looks like two weeks later. It’s really not that far from the truth. The thing with making change, to being able to maintain your new years resolution, is you really just need to make small changes in order to reach your bigger goal. If getting fit is your goal, and you are starting from the couch, then your first step should be to just move more. Park the car further away from the shops and walk further. Get up 30 minutes earlier and go for a walk around your neighborhood. Spend the day in your garden. Just start moving more. I’m not saying don’t go to the gym, but like anything you start new, you need to build up. Establish a routine so that it becomes part of your life. Not something that you have to do, but something you want to do. Going out hard from the outset, without building up slowly, can cause injury and worse still, you may end up with a negative association with exercise. If it’s something you want to have in your life as a constant and something you enjoy, then you have to find what works for you, giving you results in addition to a positive association.

Small changes are often best to achieve results over time. You may not have to think big to get the results you’re after but you may have to be patient, put the work in and be disciplined in your approach. Consistency is key. With nutrition, with exercise, with pony tails. You may have to take a lot of small changes over time to achieve your goal. This is where it may be worth writing down how you are going to achieve your goal. Plan out the steps, no use running when you first need to have running shoes. Think small steps, be consistent, be disciplined. If you’re looking for immediate results (ie the magic pill), then maybe you aren’t ready for your goal just yet and your small change should first be that mindset.