The first quarter of the year is over.
Welcome to a blustery April; let the winds, be winds of change!
What is to be your focus for the next 90 days?
What would you like to create, for yourself, during the next 3 months?
What healthy habit would you like to install into your life?
Perhaps you want to practice greater levels of self-care? Do you want to train for a 10K in June? Would you like to meet new people and make new friends? Are you craving the opportunity to de-clutter, get organized, and finally, maintain a system of order?
Whatever your desire, the next 90 days is the perfect opportunity to take charge.
Breaking the calendar into quarters and setting personal goals for each section of the year is both daunting and exhilarating. I notice how much faster time flies by when I count 90 days at a time. I also notice a slight sense of panic sets in; since 90 days counts down so quickly, if I am going to get started, I must start immediately!
And each quarter, when I set out a new challenge for myself, I notice the same three bothersome aspects pop up:
One: the fear of failure.
Two: dreading the level of effort required.
Three: Not having a big enough “Why”.
Fear of Failure.
At the beginning of January I set the goal of lifting weights 3 mornings a week. Truth: Weight lifting happened once a week for me; it was a battle for me to get my butt downstairs to do it. So, I failed at one of my first quarter goals.
The fear of failure can paralyze us. It may mean a desire won’t rise to the top of our list of goals in the first place, or we will let it drop off our list if we don’t succeed. To make matters worse, we tend to make up stories about what failing says about our character. For example, I could choose beat myself up about what a lazy-ass person I am; I could decide I must be weak-willed and lack determination if I can’t manage to lift weights three times a week.
Or, I can use this failure to examine what is really going on for me:
What keeps me from heading downstairs first thing?
What about my morning routine needs to be tweaked so I more easily steer myself towards the basement?
What can I do to make lifting weights fun?
What can I use as my reward system?
Dreading the Effort.
One of the biggest reasons we don’t start something is we dread the effort it takes to change a habit into something new and different. I notice for myself how hard a period of transition can be.
For example, my natural resistance to change is clearly evident as the snow melts, the roads clear, and biking season begins in earnest. The first 100 miles of biking every spring feels like a major slog-fest. Muscles are pressed into service in a way they haven’t been accustomed to moving for the last four months. Slight rises in the terrain, that by the end of the season, I won’t even dignify by calling a hill, now loom large.
As an athlete, I have a comforting framework to fall back on when I encounter the sense of change-related dread setting in. I know from experience, with enough time in the saddle, and a few hundred miles on my legs, biking will feel second nature again.
I’m certain we all have some area in our life we can lean into for comfort when we start to dread the effort it will take to start something new, or make a change. We each have an activity, something we learned how to do, which took time and effort to master before we felt thoroughly comfortable. Perhaps it was learning how to play the piano; trying a new recipe several times until we got it right; learning to ride a motorcycle with confidence; or even remembering how a new job felt awkward until we learned the ropes.
Which is why weight-lifting is going back on my goal list for this next quarter; I commit to sticking with it and continuing to observe and tweak my routine until weight-lifting is as habitual (and as necessary) as my morning run or bike ride.
How about you? What will go back onto your goal list? What is an area of your life you can lean into for comfort when you start to dread the effort?
A big enough “Why”.
Not having a “big enough why” is certain death for a goal. Take my example of not meeting my 3 days a week weight-lifting goal. My “why” for this goal was too ephemeral; I was lifting weights because I was pursuing a particular muscular look for my arms. However, truthfully, I know I will never look like an Athleta catalog model, no matter how much weight-lifting I do. Deep down, my “why” was simply not strong enough to propel me down the stairs and towards my weight bench.
What I’ve realized, as I dial into what will truly motivate me, is my definition of self-care. If I am able to connect the reason I choose to lift weights 3 times a week to the same reason I drink green smoothies and go for morning runs, I might have just found the “big enough why” to get my butt to the basement 3 mornings a week for the next 13 weeks.
What will you choose to tackle for yourself these next 90 days?
What stories do you tell yourself, about failure, that hold you back?
What examples from your own life demonstrate you have the staying power to set a new goal and see it though?
What is your big “Why” and can you make it big enough to propel you through the dreaded transition period?
Happy Creating… and Thriving!