We had a really warm day where I live today and it made me realize that spring is on its way. The weather will turn cold again, but soon there will be more warm days and spring will finally be here!
Just like the weather, we have personal seasons in our lives. We all experience tough winters, hopeful springs, happy summers and transitional falls. The question is, how do we make the best out of all of them? It’s not always easy, but the spring can signal an opportunity for us to get outside a bit more, look forward to more daylight, and watch the seeds we planted, sprout. So, think about the seeds you have planted and if there are any other plants you would like to see bloom. Many people make New Year’s resolutions, but I think spring, of all of the seasons, offers hope and renewal.
One exercise to consider may be taking a look at your goals. Where do you want to be this time next year? Where do you want your family to be? What would you like to see happen? Just like the seeds need water, sun and soil, you need support and resources for your goals too.
It’s unfair to say to yourself, I’m going to just get fit or I’m going to choose the right donor or read more to my child. It’s a lot to take on, and those simple statements may not be enough to get you there. Many of you have heard that it’s easier to tell your child to put their clothes in the hamper, make their bed, and then put their book back in the bookshelf, rather than simply “clean up your room”. Why? Because it is specific and organized. Our brains often do better when we have step by step instructions, rather than a challenge with no plan.
How can you support those plans? It has been said that the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. We may look at our goal and think we can just jump in, or we “should” be able to just jump in and do it. If we can step back and accept that it may be more difficult than we think, we can accept that breaking down the steps may be very beneficial. According to Art Markman, who wrote about this in the Harvard Business review (2017), “Poor performers in a domain are more prone to overestimate their ability than good performers. Why? Because poor performers are unaware of the many elements that go into expert performance, and thus they are overly confident in their ability to carry out all of the tasks necessary to succeed.” If you don’t properly set yourself up for success, you are also likely to set yourself up for burnout, frustration and possibly self-criticism. And self-criticism is the worst! It can cause our bodies to feel weighed down, it can cause our minds to be more distractable and it can lead to depression.
What can we do to support ourselves? Here are a few tips:
• Set alarms for things that matter
• Minimize distractions
• Tell others about your goals (or the elements of your goals) for accountability
• Visualize your goals with reminders, vision boards or post-it notes
• Do not be angry if you fall, just give yourself a pat on the back and get back up when you are ready
• Educate yourself, as much as you can, about the subject or how to accomplish it
• Be kind to yourself. That doesn’t mean letting yourself off the hook. It means encouraging yourself, noticing your efforts and celebrating successes along the way
Here’s to all the planted seeds, the sprouts, the buds and the blooming flowers. They are all important.
With very warm wishes,