Welcome back, friend, and happy new year! Hope your 2021 is off to a good start. Three weeks of rest did me a world of good and I’m ready to get back at it and take on the year. But first, I’m sharing my biggest mistake of 2020 and how I’m going about fixing it!
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😲 My Biggest Mistake of 2020
I don’t really make resolutions but I do take period inventory of my life so that I can rebalance and make sure that I’m aligning with the goals that bring me the most happiness. For me, these assessments take place three times annually:
- at the start of the year,
- around my birthday (in May),
- at “back to school” time (yes, I still call it “back to school” in my mid-50’s).
2020 started out with goals aplenty (see this post)! But when shutdowns took place in mid-March, the uncertainty of how long the pandemic would last started to take a toll. I’d exchanged regular treadmill runs for longer walks outside that helped me keep my sanity. I’ was consuming comfort foods more often than I should. And I was really starting to count on that nightly glass of wine (or two).
By May, I still thought of these changes as temporary. It’s a pandemic! We can’t go anywhere! It felt OK to give myself a bit of grace. But come September these things no longer felt like special treats. They’d become (bad) habits. Change was in order.
“I abandoned some long-maintained, good habits instead of choosing to hold onto them by merely trimming back.”
Immediately, I instituted a one-day-a-week treadmill order but kept up with my sanity-saving outside time/park walks whenever the weather allowed. In hindsight, I should have done this from the start. It would have been much easier to cut back but still maintain a good habit than to let it slip away entirely. I also needed to jump-start some toning so I found a few 30-day challenges (planks/squats) to work on.
We cleaned up our eating a bit, save a sad week when I made (and we ate) WAY too much lasagna. And I cut out drinking for at least a night or two each week, although I still wasn’t back to the point of “no alcohol on weeknights unless it’s a special occasion”. But it was a step in the right direction. Now I’m attempting Dry January to get me 100% back on course.
How to Get Back on Track When You’ve Let a Habit Slip
I use a 5-page tool (sample below) to help me assess where I’ve been and where I’m going. You can learn more about what the tool entails in this post but essentially it involves:
- Determining the relative importance of various components of your life (career/personal development, health, family, friends, finances, civic, spiritual).
- Evaluating where you currently stand with regard to each of those areas.
- Determining what needs to be tweaked in order to lead you to your most satisfying life.
- Maintaining a system for monitoring your progress towards those goals.
My Single BEST Tip for Getting Back on Track
My best tip for quickly getting back on track (or getting started, if you’ve never done this before) is to take immediate action! As soon as you’re conscious that you’re having the thought, “I want/need to change this”, take some form of action, however small. Do NOT wait for an arbitrary date (January 1st, after the weekend, when the kids go back to school) to act.
- Dream of learning a language? Take just one lesson on Duolingo.
- Looking to increase strength? Pop down into a plank or do a few squats.
- Want a new job? Update your resume or reach out to a relevant connection on LinkedIn.
- Feeling disconnected? Call, text, or send a note to a friend you’ve been missing.
- Do whatever little thing you can think of to take the first step and get on your way!
You’ll never be as motivated as when you’re first thinking about change and immediate action will:
- Get you through the hardest step of acquiring any new habit: STARTING.
- Encourage confidence and happiness. You took action! You’re finally making that change that you’ve wanted to!
- Build positive momentum. You’ve started the habit/lifestyle change, now you just need to keep it up!
Is your life in balance or did the crazy year throw you for a loop? Let me know what you’re working on (or how you managed to stay on track during an international pandemic) in the comments below! To learn more about the significance of habits, I recommend The Power of Habit and Better Than Before: What I Learned About Making and Breaking Habits.
Until next time…keep cultivating a simple, stylish, and satisfying life!