Sometimes in life there’s a real disconnect between what we want and what we accomplish, and I’m here to tell you that it’s never because you’re not good enough or don’t deserve to achieve your goals. No, the disconnect is almost always in our minds. We latch onto something that we want to change in our lives and decide to change it – “I’m going to eat totally healthy! I’m going to exercise every day!” And, okay, occasionally that actually works out, but most of the time, we find ourselves sliding right back into old habits, disappointed in the lack of results.
If you want to make lasting, meaningful changes in your life, here’s what you need to do: know yourself, trust yourself, and love yourself.
It’s pretty easy to think you know yourself. I mean, your favorite color is blue and you like cats – that’s easy enough. But that’s not quite the knowing yourself that I’m talking about. I mean the really honest stuff. The things you maybe wish you didn’t know about yourself. These are the thoughts and behaviors that are stalling your progress. Pull them out and look at them clearly. Side note, looking at yourself clearly does not mean passing judgment! The things you know about yourself aren’t good or bad, they’re just facts. They are. So don’t finish any of your sentences with, “…but I wish I didn’t.” We’ll get to the behavior change part in a little bit. Right now, we’re just looking, noticing and knowing.
“If I go in that kitchen to eat one cookie, then I’m actually going to eat four cookies.”
“I tell myself I’m going to get in a workout after dinner, but I’d really rather watch TV.”
“I stay up too late to make getting up early a viable option.”
“I’m intimidated by the thought of lifting weights.”
Any of these sound familiar? Pay attention to your habits and be honest with yourself about them. Some of them are changeable and some of them are not. If you really, truly want to start getting up early, then you need to be honest with yourself about the prospect of going to bed early, too. If staying up an hour after the kids go to sleep is your favorite part of the day, then 5 am workouts aren’t going to happen. Certain habit changes are just non-starters. For me personally, I am willing to make plenty of changes in my eating habits, but don’t you dare suggest that I drink my coffee black. I like my creamer, I enjoy my “coffee time” in the morning, and frankly, I would rather sell you my left arm than disrupt that habit. And I know myself well enough to know that, so I don’t try to change it.
But some habits are changeable, and that’s where honesty is your best friend. If you know that you’re not going to head out for a run after dinner, then stop scheduling it for 8 pm. It’s not going to happen, let it go. Maybe a lunchtime run is better suited to your day. Set yourself up for success by knowing when you are motivated and what sorts of things truly interest you.
You make good decisions, you’re smart, you have honest intentions and best of all, you know yourself well enough to make thoughtful and deliberate changes. Now you have to trust yourself enough to follow through. Just like earning trust with a partner or friend, this one is going to take some time, so don’t get impatient. You might screw up from time to time (we all do), but trusting yourself will make the difference between giving up and getting right back to it.
Trusting yourself is a big leap of faith, I know, but it’s an important one and vital to your success. Think about what it feels like to trust somebody else, like when your pipe springs a leak and you call in a plumber. (Never mind the exorbitant cost of the plumber, that’s not relevant to our story.) You know that this is a person who’s got things covered – he’s an expert, he knows what he’s doing and he’s going to get the job done.
Now think about yourself in that same light. You’re an expert at you. You know what you’re doing and you’re going to get the job done. Picture yourself being successful. Not just the part where you’re already finished, but the part where you’re putting in the hard work. Believe that the choices you’ve made are the best ones and cut yourself a little slack when things don’t go smoothly. Doesn’t that feel awesome?? That’s trust.
It’s strange, but this one always seems to be the hardest. We are so tough on ourselves! Imagine if you spoke to another person the way you speak to yourself. You’d never do it, would you?? It wouldn’t even cross your mind to be critical of another woman’s butt the way you are with your own. You would never call your best friend stupid or ugly or worthless, but these are the thoughts that cross our minds all day long.
You know yourself. You’ve been honest with your habits and your feelings and you’re learning to trust yourself to follow through on good decisions. So now you need to love yourself enough to do your best. Treat yourself as kindly as you treat everyone else. Cut yourself a little slack when you’re not perfect and speak to yourself with love.
You deserve it.
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