What does 2020 hold for you? What possibilities and pitfalls lie in wait… and how many different potential pathways are likely to stretch out ahead of you?
Are you likely to start the new year with a list of resolutions such as losing weight, getting fitter, or giving up smoking and/or drinking? If so, what will be different? After all, January 1st is just the day after December 31st, and if it was too difficult to change the old habits then, why believe it will be any different because another 24 hours have passed?
Well, because the beginning of a new year brings with it the sense of a fresh start… and it brings something else, too – it brings hope.
If we don’t believe, and if we have no hope, we have nothing. Our spirit becomes old and jaded, regardless of our physical age, and we sentence ourselves to a life of survival, rather than one that is created, developed, explored, and lived. A new year is just that: a new year. However, symbolically, it is so much more… it is a crisp, clean, fresh sheet of paper upon which we get to write the next chapter of the story of our life. We have no idea how that chapter will end, even if we do start with an outline and some considered plot points. Sometimes the story ends up writing and telling itself. But, if we have no ideas, no intentions, no plans, and no goals and aims – that are inspirational – we will exert little or no influence over the direction in which the next chapter ends up taking us. And, just in case you missed it, I will reiterate that the key word here is – inspirational!
Whatever you wish to change, experience, or achieve in 2020, it has to feel worthwhile. It has to fill you with anticipation rather than dread or boredom! For example, losing 24 lbs may well be something that you like the idea of and makes absolute sense – but the cutting down on your favourite foods whilst upping the amount of exercise you do, for any major length of time, doesn’t exactly fill you with excitement – and anyway, you’ve tried it before without permanent success. So, why go down the same old pathway again this year? Why have the same old attitude, use the same old approach, and repeat the same old actions as a zillion times before, whilst still expecting a different result? It doesn’t matter whether it is weight-loss or some other change you really want to make… if what you have been doing hasn’t worked up to this point, then out with the old and in with the new!
Where change is concerned, we can’t afford to adopt an all-or-nothing, black-and-white attitude. If (still using weight as an example) you have been overweight for some time, it is no good wishing it all away overnight “otherwise what’s the point in trying?” Time will pass regardless of whether or not you lose any of those excess pounds. For example, at the rate of just 1 per week, at the end of 6 months you will be 24 lbs lighter. Or, you could argue, “I don’t want to wait that long… I need it gone now!” Well, unless you have a cast iron will and a huge amount of determination, good luck with that attitude (especially if you’ve been struggling to slim down for some time)! If you are one of those sturdy-minded individuals who makes a decision and a firm, unbreakable commitment in the same breath, then what I have been saying doesn’t apply to you… but, if you are like me, and have been alternately promising and threatening yourself where the subject of weight-loss is concerned, for far too long, then read on!
Real change starts with acceptance. “This is who I am right now; this is how things are at this moment in time; this is the situation; this is how I feel and this is how I look, today.” Once we have accepted our current reality (as opposed to merely being resigned to it, which is a different matter altogether!), we can start to embrace the idea of change, because resistance is not being allowed to get in the way. All great and satisfying achievements have taken effort and time, with one step being taken after the next and the next and the next… a cumulative effect that leads to success. I have had many, many conversations with frustrated individuals who want change now, and are tired of trying and tired of waiting… but, the truth is, they have usually been repeatedly trying in the wrong way, and/or haven’t been trying as hard as they believe they have! In answer to the question, “How long should I keep trying?”, I would say, “Well – if it is something that is genuinely, honestly important to you – you keep trying until you reach your goal or grow old and die (whichever comes first)!” If it isn’t that important, or we can bear to live with long-term dissatisfaction, we’ll make excuses or just not bother pushing ourselves too hard for too long.
I believe that, by focusing on the outcome, the longed-for result, rather than the journey, we are more likely to feel inspired and excited! By visualising ourselves being or doing whatever it is we really desire, we allow ourselves to feel what it is like to be our future self, living our future life. We need a huge carrot at the end of our stick in order to remain motivated and committed… something we just know will be more than worth all of the effort. Any idiot can have a day-dream, something they quite like the idea of; any idiot can be impatient, unwilling to build toward success and giving up the moment they run into the first hurdle or the first bout of resistance. It won’t actually be too long before we are bidding farewell to 2020 and 2021 is opening its arms to us: just imagine how far we could have travelled by then, toward our most heartfelt and desired destinations… or, how trapped we could still be, by our old attitudes and ways.
I can live with the 28 lbs I didn’t used to carry carry around with me… but I don’t want to. I’ve had enough. It makes me feel sad, especially when I see my beloved battered old motorbike jacket and waistcoat (now too small for me to fit into), with its colourful badges and patches, hanging above my desk in my little office. However, I have accepted that I can’t lose weight as quickly as I used to – at least partially due to being a bit older and having some arthritis in my right hip that prevents me from power-walking and leaping around like a gazelle – and, instead of giving myself dirty, critical looks every time I pass a mirror, I give thanks that I have had access to enough food to have been in the position to actually put on excess weight! And, I do my best to look my best, as I am, right now (without being resigned to my fate)! It might be harder than it used to be but I know that I can do it, and I know I have to take appropriate actions that are more likely to lead to success than failure, repeatedly, over time. I have had to write this blog in sections, in between ferrying people to work and attending kickboxing class (the physio told me I need to give it up for my hip’s sake, but I don’t want to! I am taking a huge range of supplements and doing my stretches on most days, and Sensei allows me to make adjustments… so I’m not calling it quits just yet). I am heading out again soon and still haven’t finished it – but I will. The same way I had to keep on with my novellas (available on Amazon), writing one page after the other, making changes, rewriting, and then figuring out how to publish them. It is all about steps and layers. We can even change our attitude, our mindset, our beliefs, in steps and layers. Whatever it is we really, really want to change or make happen, if we can believe in it, if we can keep hope alive, and if we are willing to be patient and persistent, we will succeed! Remember: today was built upon yesterday, and tomorrow will be built upon today… and tomorrow will come, regardless, whether or not we are in it to win it!