Hello! How was your week?
This is the final installment in our 6-part series on self-care. If you haven’t read the others, here are the links:
The First Step to Self-Care
Self-Care Part 2
Self-Care Part 3: Sustainable Change Begins
Self-Care Part 4: Getting from Here to There
Self-Care Part 5: Letting Go of Your Stories
Did you experiment with one goal, plotting it on a continuum and coming up with three small steps? If not, what stopped you? No time? No faith? No energy?
This article deals with the first one which provides you with the last two! You see the more effectively you manage your time and the more realistic your expectations are, given that you have 24 hours in the day, the more energy you’ll have, the more successful you’ll be at everything you try and therefore, the more faith you’ll have in yourself to succeed and the more faith you’ll have in the process (which means you’ll do it more so you’ll experience even more change and even more success which means you’ll feel even more energized and more hopeful and trusting of yourself and of the process of change). It’s a wonderful reciprocal relationship, and the first step is setting clear and realistic goals. Did you hear that last part? Realistic goals? I’ll bet you if you’re not taking action already to reach your desired goals for health, wellness, peace, love, passion and fulfillment, you do not have realistic goals. Let me prove that to you and then let us set about the work of clearing the decks so you can move forward!
Each day, each week, each month we have tasks to do. We have commitments, obligations and activities that are for us and/or for others that take up time in our day, week, month, year. Many of us have so many commitments and obligations that we have no time for ourselves. And many of us have been trained by key people in our lives to feel guilty if we think of saying no to someone “simply” to do something for ourselves or, heaven forbid, have some down time.
If you think about all the key roles you play in your life you’ll have a list that looks something like this:
You may have more or less roles, it doesn’t matter. Now within each of those roles you need to take a few moments and write out all the things you feel are expected of you and/or that you have agreed to in those roles.
- Call mom every week, see her once a month
- Email aunts/uncles/cousins monthly
- Birthday party/special occasion attendance
- Cards/presents purchase and mail
- Visit with favorite cuz once a month
- Call friends weekly
- Get together for coffee with best friend weekly
- Get together with other friends at least once a month
- Cards/calls on b’days etc.
- Be on time
- Work 8 hours a day
- Stay late here and there
- Be a team player (meaning make time for outside activities after work) and spend time chit-chatting during the work day to connect
- Take on a new project or two to show I’m worthy of promotion or raise
- Some quality connection each day
- One night a week just for us
- One day on the weekends just for us (or at least a few hours)
- Miscellaneous other stuff – deal with disagreements (hopefully only occasionally), pick up his dry cleaning etc.
- Quality time each day with the kids
- Sit while they do homework
- Read parenting books/take a course, enhance my skills regarding communication and boundaries
- Miscellaneous tasks in and around the place (lawn mowing, laundry, dishes, floor sweeping/vacuuming, garbage in and out etc.)
- Taxes/bill payment monthly
- Renovating? Painting?
- Show up on time for all meetings
- Help with this or that committee or function
- Meditate/exercise/yoga – be fully present in my body for ½ hour a day.
- Prepare and consume healthy meals (this requires time for shopping and preparation let alone the consumption)
- Shower/make myself presentable to the world at large
- Sleep 8 hours + a night
- Read something fun and light just for me/watch my favorite program
- Make time for the dentist, doctor, massage therapist…take care of my body.
Okay – you may have more or less roles. You may have hobbies and no significant other or children, you may have a lot going on in one area (say work, volunteer, family) and little elsewhere. You need something that’s just for you, even if it’s an hour a week. So, if you don’t have that, start thinking about what your “you time” could be.
Now just look at this list ask yourself “How many hours in the day again?” Yep, still just 24. Chances are, regardless of what you actually achieve in a week or a day, you have expectations of doing much or all of the above, expectations that you can’t meet without some serious planning and without the ability to set clear and solid boundaries to others should they expect you to do something with and for them at a time when you’ve got other things to do that really need your attention.
You see it all boils down to this: When you have a belief that you should be or do a certain thing, regardless of how realistic that belief or expectation is, your Drill Sgt. takes it up as his crusade. “You will lose those 10 pounds this week, win that Nobel Prize, and be the best parent in the world or die trying!!!”
This means that anything that isn’t directly and obviously related to those goals is seen as a complete waste of time and a failure to comply. Regardless of how many hours you’ve put into the 10 pounds, the Nobel or the parenting that day, it’s not enough as far as the Drill Sgt. is concerned because you’re not there yet!!!! You can’t relax, you haven’t achieved your objective. Forget about sleep, forget about needing to eat to have energy and brain power to do anything else, forget about your own self-care just get there!!!! Then you can relax, if you’re still alive and haven’t forgotten how.
You see, whatever you tell yourself you should do or be regardless or how realistic or healthy, your Drill Sgt. takes it as truth and as right and won’t let up until you give him a great big hug and say, “Thank you, I appreciate your efforts, but our directive has changed. We’re going to set realistic goals and work towards them a bit each day/week. As long as we see consistent forward movement, we can trust we’ll get there and we can allow ourselves some balance, some relaxation, and some self-care.”
Whatever you do, set realistic goals. Assuming the goal is something that is truly important to you, as long as your expectations are realistic within the context of your life overall, you will be successful.
The reason so many people aren’t successful with diets and exercise programs isn’t that dieting doesn’t work or that exercise isn’t good for you. It’s not even that exercise doesn’t feel good, because it often makes us feel strong and invigorated (assuming we’re not overdoing it). The reason most folks aren’t successful with diets and exercise plans is that they make sweeping changes on Monday morning, with little or no planning, and their expectations are just out on Pluto. How reasonable is it to expect yourself to completely change your approach to food without making time to learn to prepare new and interesting things, without making more time in your day for being present with food, and without the gradual introduction of new tastes and sensations so you can experiment with what you like and don’t like and find things you really enjoy that are also really good for you? And how reasonable is it to expect that, in a busy life, you’re suddenly going to have the time and energy for 3 (or more, as some of you do go all-or-nothing in a big way) 1-hour trips to the gym plus travel time? Not only will it be hard to just suddenly make the time for that much exercise but you’ll be exhausted, burn yourself out, may even get sick, and be back at square one by next Monday.
It’s not that you can’t succeed with your goals, it’s simply that you need to be realistic with your expectations so that the changes you make can be sustained and enhanced as your energy and stamina improve, physically, mentally and emotionally.
So, this week it’s time to play around with plotting your goals and all the other bits and pieces of your life on a weekly schedule and giving yourself a visual of what you’re expecting of yourself and what you can actually do in 24 hours while still prioritizing your self-care.
You’ll find a copy of a schedule for you to use at the end of this article. Give it a try and see what happens when you begin to come back to earth, have realistic expectations and reasonable time lines for reaching your goals. In six months you’ll be in a completely different place rather than just revisiting the same place over and over again.
Remember, I’m here if you want some individualized support on this. If you’re ready for your life to be different; for your relationship with food to finally be peaceful and easy; and for your body to finally be the best that it can be, set up a one-on-one session or come to our weekend workshop and get started. Once you get the old, all-or-nothing thinking out of the way, the path is clear.
Whether you prefer one-on-one counselling (in-person, by phone, or email), our intensive and transformative workshops, or the self-help approach, take action today to have a stress-free relationship with food. Sign up for our free newsletter today! Newsletter subscribers receive exclusive product discounts and are first in line to get on all the latest new at CEDRIC!