By Creative Planning Team Member - Natalie Bowers
We’ve all done it, right? We’ve all decided that every day/week/month for the next week/month/year, we’re going to [insert goal/intention/resolution]. If you’re anything like me, you’ve also failed at doing whatever it was you said you’d do as frequently as you said you’d do it. Failed … ugh … I hate that word! Let’s get rid of it. Let’s remove it from our vocabulary, at least when talking about ourselves and our objectives.
About ten days ago, I declared my intention to ‘walk adventurously’ every day for the whole of March, and I set up a fun page in my bullet journal (featuring a rather energetic Penguin Joe) to track my progress. To cut a long story short: I’ve had a lot of back and joint pain over the last few years, and I’ve also been struggling with fatigue and anaemia. Suffice it to say, all this has contributed to a loss of mobility and a lot of weight gain. But no more! I’ve rejoined Slimming World, lost 1.5 stone and now feel ready to get outside and walk … or I did for the first six days of March. On the seventh day, I hit a brick wall. Fatigue literally brought me to my knees, and I’ve been dragging myself around the house ever since. As I write this, it’s Tuesday, and I still haven’t got enough energy to even step outside the house, let alone go for a walk. What a big fat FAILURE!
Or is it?
Sitting here, writing this, I’m thinking to myself that if I look at it through my gloomy glasses, I could see it as a failure, but what if I look at it another way, through the lens of awareness, the lens of self-care? Then no … no, it’s not a big fat failure – it’s not a failure at all. It’s simply a message from my body to my brain, telling me that I have set unrealistic expectations given my current state of health. It’s telling me that I need to re-evaluate my intentions, maybe dial things back a notch, or two, or three. Maybe walking every day this month isn’t a realistic goal for me right now. Maybe walking every other day would work, or walking on weekdays and having a rest at the weekend? That doesn’t sound so bad. I could do that.
But what about my lovely tracker? I wanted to add a Penguin Joe to every day in March so that at the end of the month I could look back and see all those Penguin Joes walking their little socks off and know that I’d walked my socks off too. Well, I think I’ll just have to accept that I’m not going to see a month’s worth of walking Penguin Joes, but that’s no reason to abandon my tracker altogether. There are plenty of other Penguin Joes that I can add instead. For the last three days, I’ve added a ‘resting’ Penguin Joe, and simply seeing him reclining on his cushion, eating popcorn and chilling out in front of the TV makes me feel a lot better about not walking every day. I think I needed a reminder that rest is important too.
I’m not sure if I’ll ever learn to stop setting unrealistic expectations for myself, but I guess it’s a case of you never know until you try - nothing ventured, nothing gained. I need to accept that it’s okay to adjust my expectations once I realise what’s realistic. For example, I’m perfectly happy to have gaps in my regular wellness tracker. I learned a while ago, that meditating on the weekend is not realistic given the stage of life my family is in at the moment, so I only meditate on weekdays, and that works for me.
So, the next time you feel that you’ve ‘failed’ to achieve a goal you’ve set yourself, maybe give yourself a thumbs-up for giving it a go and say: no, no I haven’t failed; I’ve just bitten off more than I can chew right now. And instead of throwing the baby out with the bathwater (as I have a tendency to do) perhaps reel-in your goal a bit, so that it meets YOU where YOU’RE at, rather than the other way around.
You can find Natalie and the rest of the Creative Planning Team and all of their social media links HERE