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  • Writer's pictureValerie

Three Steps to Eat an Elephant

This time of year, is always exciting.

Oh, sure Christmas is exciting, but there is something intoxicating about a fresh start and a new year ‘without any mistakes in it’, as Ms. Stacey would say to Anne Shirley. After the year that was 2020, we all could use a fresh start. Though some of the crazy from last year has seem to have bled over in to 2021, we all like to more toward change.

One thing I feel 2020 did for many people is to give us the opportunity to assess our priorities. To really look at where we were spending our time and what was getting our attention. Six months of quarantine, really got our family both active and intentional about the time we spend together.

As we cautiously think about the year ahead, what will you keep, change, or stop?

We may not be able to control a lot of what goes on around us, but we can control how we respond to the world around us.

A few years ago, I gave up doing resolutions, because I rarely achieved the limited goal. Some people choose a word of the year to encompass their goals. Well last year I chose the phrase, ‘Hard but Good’. Yeah, I need to be more careful with my word choices, cause 2020 was something else.

Last week we talked a little about the psychology of resolutions (Why Resolutions Don't Work) and this week we are going to talk about how to succeed.

Goals are slippery little things that if we don’t full grasp what we are trying to achieve the steps to get there become an insurmountable Everest, and we stop trying.

But if we take the large goal and break it down into a series of steps, mentally the goal is obtainable and we are able to see the progress rather than the rest of the mountain we have to climb.

It goes back to the adage of 'How do you eat an Elephant'?

One bite at a time.

This is not a new idea. And it has gone by many names. Dave Ramsey, the financial peace guru, calls it the Snowball effect. It is this idea that celebrating small goals will motivate you to move toward the bigger goals. So why not do the same with resolutions?

Bite # 1

- Establish the goal

Take some time to really process what the goal is. Is it a number on the scale (don’t recommend)? A diet change? Give up social media? Travel more. The choices are endless, so choose something that speaks to you, so you can spend December 2021 saying ‘look how far I’ve come’.

Bite #2

-Come up with three to five tangible steps toward that goal with a timeline

In November 2019, my back went out big time. It hurt to sit. It hurt to lay down. Let’s just say my kids were pushing me around the house in an office chair. Fun Times. By the grace of God, after a couple weeks I was able to walk and go about limited activities. But in those two weeks, fear and anxiety about the future of my health really took its toll. I knew I need to exercise and strengthen my back. After exhaustive research on all the exercise opportunities at my disposal. I knew if I set the goal of working out every day I would be doomed to failure. So I started with getting back into walking my dog three days a week. See there’s a little flexibility in the goal that makes it tangible instead of insurmountable. Then I decided to add a workout routine with a local group for three days a week. Each goal had flexibility and worked toward the goal of not being reliant on my back brace. Praise the Lord I haven’t needed my brace in months. YAY!!!!

Bite #3

- Plan how you will celebrate little victories along the way.

Hard work and goals are no good without a way to reward yourself for all your hard work. As much as Pavlov studied psychological responses of dogs, we are not much different. If we work hard at something we are almost programmed to ‘deserve’ a reward. A weekend break, a raise, etc. So work with your human nature and set up rewards when you move a step up toward your goal. Whether that’s a massage, a new exercise mat, a new pair of shoes. You know yourself and you know what will move you to the next step to your goal.

Let’s get steppin’

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