Caution: Under Construction!

I’ve decided my life needs a major overhaul. I want to quit smoking (I know – bad mommy – but it’s pretty much kept me sane while my husband goes through a self-centered bastard phase that I’m chalking up to the fact that he doesn’t get all my attention anymore); join a gym six miles down the street (until a couple of years ago I’ve always had jobs that have kept me pretty fit); eat better; cut back on the coffee (nectar of the gods); get more sleep; and be more involved with other parents and kids. I’m a home-body, but I really miss the social life we had before our best friends moved from next door to 13 hours drive away, and Connor is ready to start playing in team sports. And, last, but most definitely not least, I want to start creating again…I’m a woodcarver/painter/ artist by nature. Some or all of these “renovations” should help me not be so dang cranky.

Succeed Making Major Life Changes

The majority of people, myself included, have gotten used to the instant gratification of the information age. Want to learn about building a website? Google it. Hungry? Throw a frozen dinner in the microwave for five minutes. Unfortunately, instant gratification is not conducive to living a healthy life (mentally or physically) or to making a major life change.

So the big question is: how do people actually succeed at making dramatic changes in thier lives? There is no immediate fix answer. Making change not only takes time, it takes dedication and understanding that without setting small, attainable goals for ourselves, we’re bound to fail because the larger goal seems like it’s just to difficult to reach, and we will feel overwhelmed by the larger task.

Baby Steps

As you can see from the list above, I want to make some pretty drastic changes, and a whole lot of them. I tend to dive into any project head first, work as hard as I can at it, and if my energy is gone before the project is completed, I get burned out and end up putting it off yet again. So to help ensure my success at the life overhaul I’ve got in mind, I’ve developed a plan to help make those long-term goals achievable. I’ve broken it down into baby steps.

The first change I’ve decided to tackle is getting more sleep (sleep has a large bearing on being successful in any of the other changes). My long-term goal is to be in bed at 10pm and awake at 5:30am. It’s been about three weeks since I started working on my sleep issues, and I’m doing pretty well so far. I’m in bed and asleep usually between 9- and 11pm every night, and up between 4- and 6am every morning. Every week, go to bed and wake up at more consistent times that are closer to my final goal. Since I have a three-month-old baby this goal is going to take a little more time and work than it normally would, but with a little patience and some not-unreasonable leeway, it is definitely attainable. It takes three to six weeks for something to become a habit, but I’m allowing myself more than that – as Kyle gets a little older and starts eating solids (in three weeks), I can tweak my sleep schedule to be where I would like it. Believe it or not, I’m actually a morning person at heart, and its nice waking up not feeling like I got run over by a Mac truck or wanting to filet anyone who speaks to me too early in the morning. (Did I mention that I switched to decaf while I was pregnant and haven’t touched caffiene since? I miss real coffee :-( )

To be successful in making big changes, take a close look at each one and break it down into the smaller changes that the big change depends on.

Extreme Sports? Okay. Extreme Change? Not so much!

Many people, as I mentioned I tend to do above, often try to go from one extreme to the other. If you’ve never been one to work out and when you decide to focus on your fitness, you build a complete home gym in your spare bedroom, chances are pretty darn good that all you’re going to end up with is some dusty exercise equipment. What you should do instead is start out going for a couple of walks or jogs a week, then step it up to four times a week, then maybe purchase a treadmill…you get the idea. Jumping in head first works great if you are a professional bungee jumper, but not for making life changes.

Don’t expect a big change to happen overnight. Plan and make time for the little changes so you don’t set yourself up for failure.

Change for Change

If you attempted to change something about yourself in the past and failed, but would like to give it a go again, make sure you change the approach to take! A classic definition of insanity (or addiction) is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Many people fail before they’ve even started because they convince themselves that they failed because they just didn’t work hard enough, and do the same old thing again instead of trying something new.

Re-evaluate how you approached a change and come up with a new plan before you attempt to make that change again.

Success is Addictive!

Setting smaller goals not only makes the larger goal seem more attainable, it also feeds our need for the good feelings being successful gives us. Make sure you give yourself the time required to achieve the goal, and allow yourself some slip-ups. Nobody is perfect. Just make sure you try to get back on track as quickly as possible, or the change you are seriously trying to make will just end up another lost New Year’s Resolution.

Acknowledge your small successes, and don’t be too hard on yourself if you regress a little.

That said, I’ve already signed Connor up for T-ball and swimming lessons. Soccer is next (for the fall), and I’m going to check out our local Family Network once Kyle is a little more sturdy – they offer all kinds of activities, have special father-kid days, and do all sorts of fun stuff. I would highly suggest you see if your town or city has something like it – I’ve heard its wonderful!

Now I’m off to the chiropractor to get my hip adjusted so the dang thing will heal and I can sign up at the gym…

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Comments

  1. Steven Papas says:

    Hi Cheryl, good to land into your blog! I also want to go for some drastic chagnes. Well, for some, these may not sound too drastic but for me they are; e.g. I want to change my sleeping zone and bring it earlier so that I go to bed at 12.00 rather than at 03.00 (very difficult for me) and I also want to fit regular excercising into my weekly schedule (I think I am on the right path for this). But, as you say, one think at a time; although smoking has to be quit completely, hasn’t it? Anyway, thanks for telling us that a habbit to be established needs 3-6 weeks. This gives me something to look forward.

  2. cbeck says:

    I think it is May 31 that is the ‘National day without nicotine’… Care to join me in the effort? I’m on the nicorette gum now and that stuff is just as addictive as the sticks.

    • Cheryl says:

      I would love to, but due to some of my dental work, I can’t chew the gum :-(. Tried the patch, and I got very angry…like *The Hulk* angry, lol. So I’m cutting down a little every day. I set my phone alarm to tell me when it’s okay to have one, and extend the time in between a little every couple of days.

  3. Good luck with your changes! I can’t wait to hear how it works out.