A new month is upon us and almost two thirds of the year is gone – a scary thought. Are you going to end this year along with your 7000 Facebook friends and 10 million twitter followers with the stock 31 December status update/tweet – “thank god that year’s over, bring on 2013?” We’ve all done it at some time, but I’ve got to a point now where I refuse to wish my life away, particularly years of it. I may sit there on the train tomorrow on the way back from a “typical” Monday in the office and wish Friday to come along quickly, but even I have limited doing that now. Existing five days a week to live for two of them? Not a great approach when we’re not here for long.
I try to look at each week, month and year as something of an achievement. Forget work stuff – we get paid for those achievements. Was there anything you did for you? Maybe you went the gym, just the once, but you went. Are you beating yourself up that you didn’t go the achievable five times you had planned to? Looking at your week as another failure, or do you look at it as something you’ve done this week that you didn’t do last week?
I committed to go to the gym three times this week and I’ve been twice. I could go today but I don’t want to. It’s Sunday and I would rather do other things like write this blog, sit in the garden and eat something without guilt. Last week I went twice as well, so there you go – that’s the same in two weeks as I went in the previous month; an achievement rather than a failure. It’s the little things that matter, as the big things are so rare. My approach now, which is the core thread of this blog, is to never start a new month trying to change the world – unless that is your job of course!
You have a routine – work, social life, exercise/food (whatever your obsession is this month), date night (whether with your partner or the latest squeeze – always have date night, even if you’ve been married for 20 years, date night can be at home with a takeaway), jobs round the house, keeping finances in check (saving for holidays, paying debts) and seeing/speaking to family. These are all your routine. This is stuff that can and will slip week to week as the reality of life gets in the way and different parts of the routine fight for pole position. By looking at it this way you don’t find yourself in vicious cycles of standing still, going nowhere, feeling miserable and beating yourself up when it’s not justified. Who’s had a conversation like this with themselves:
“I had such a stressful day today that I got a takeaway on the way home so I may as well write this week off and start again on Monday”
You ignore the little voice that says – “er – It’s Tuesday.”
I saw a woman at the gym a week or so ago who was pushing herself so hard on the treadmill it was fascinating to watch. She lost her footing, stumbled and ended up on the floor, probably hurt herself (not to mention her pride). She literally got back on the treadmill and carried on. Talk about dust yourself off and carry on – nothing beats a visual aid!
So back to the point – when starting a new month (even if we are are on the 5th, have you already written anything off – then stop and start again), remember the routine and that most of what we think are goals, is just our routine and therefore will be prone to pressure points from elsewhere. The routine is there, you do it, or you don’t and is often partly dependant on others.
Try looking at a month and setting yourself a goal that is for you and only you, but make it small, perhaps even a small part of something bigger, but don’t set yourself up to fail. If the routine gets in the way and it will, get straight back on that metaphorical treadmill, and don’t write off another month because of a little wobble that meant everything didn’t happen in its control freakery way – it’s the result that matters.
One last thing – stop talking and just do it. Actions speaker louder… don’t tell anyone what you’re going to do, just tell them when you’ve done it, that way, the only person who knows if you’re not on track is yourself. I don’t believe every goal should be announced to the world to keep you accountable – we can still have some secrets!