January is a time when many of us think about self-improvement, I think a lot of us concentrate on dramatic, drastic changes in ourselves, lives and outlook. I know I think this way and quite a lot.
Some us imagine, waking up one day, running a Marathon before the sun is up, meditating, drinking a healthy smoothie, finishing our yoga, our weights, cooking breakfast for everyone else, with a smile on our faces and having a highly productive day.
We focus on putting money in the bank each and every day at work, being a great parent and/or grand-parent and friend in-between. We imagine managing all the interruptions and demands of the day and being a positive, supportive person to our partner, loved ones and family and then wrapping the day off with reading, some journaling and some self-reflection about just how well the day went.
We do not imagine that the road to self-improvement could be more simplistic. We do not imagine that the road to self-improvement could be simply adding a ten-minute walk into our day after dinner because that is not enough. We do not imagine that the road to self-improvement could be simply removing that daily habit of hitting the snooze button, gorging on a chocolate bar or not grabbing for the wine bottle because that action could not possibly be the reason each and every one of your day’s is a chaotic mess.
We do not imagine that the road to self-improvement could be simply stopping the negative self-talk and spending five-minutes each morning thinking about three things you are truly grateful for because it just feels too silly to be meaningful.
We want the change to be dramatic, gigantic and completely unattainable because if the change is simple, small and attainable, then ‘we’ are the problem. I was reminded of this when I received a gift from a dear, dear friend this Christmas’ a gratitude diary. (They know me better than I know myself sometimes.)
It is very easy to stay entrenched in the same seemingly poor situation you have been in for far too long when you make yourself believe that the life you want to lead is out of your reach, too hard and extremely complicated. It becomes entirely unfathomable to think that you are the only obstacle in the way of your life’s desires. Nothing is out of your reach; it is simply your mindset which is the limit. To accept you are the problem of your own (and everyone’s happiness around you) is extremely painful and draining but in some sense liberating. Please do remember though, that you cannot be both the ‘perpetrator’ and ‘the shoulder to cry on’. One is at the expense of the other despite any apology that you must make.
The next time you think about that glossy, shiny, perfect version of yourself and your life, think about one simple small change you could make which would get you an inch, nay, a millimetre closer to that goal.
Add that little positive task to your day and instead of thinking that it is a waste of time or not going to accumulate to anything substantial, simply perform the act for thirty-sixty days. See how you feel after a month or two. Think about how much time it actually took to incorporate this little task into your life. Project on how it will be as you begin to add more and more small, positive changes into your daily routine.
When we focus on the big picture everything seems out of reach, but when you think about simply the day ahead or even just the next sixty minutes, accomplishment becomes much more attainable.
What you do over a lifetime is simply the accumulation of small, simple accomplishments.
You live a healthy and successful life by making small, simple and healthy decisions each day. The same is true of our running, our nutrition, our stretching, our hydration and most importantly our relationships.
We build a strong running capability by focusing on the priorities which are of highest need right now and put our full attention into them and do them well. We build a strong family life by letting yesterday’s issues go and not projecting on what pain tomorrow might bring and simply enjoying and prospering in this day.
You will not accomplish everything in a few days as the result of a New Year’s Resolution, but you will amaze yourself at what you can accomplish when you quit wasting the day away by explaining why you cannot and simply do.
What I have come to realise is I am always going to exist in this mind and body, but how I use this mind and body is what needs to change.
I cannot hate myself and expect myself to improve at the same time. Self-love comes before self-improvement. If I have to tell others about my successes in order for it to be real, there is a problem, for me at least. I am learning to do for the sake of doing and the intrinsic reward of the action, not the reaction of others.
Anything I do not like in another person is something I dislike in or about myself. I have done bad things, but I am not a bad person. I have made mistakes (many more than most), but if I do not let them go, they will stay married to my daily thoughts forever. I will never live a day in another person’s shoes, so I best stop judging how they live that life. If I learn to continue to quit trying to prove I am right, I will be happier more of the time.
If I quit saying how much I have changed and simply continue to show my growth, my actions will truly speak for themselves. I can spend my whole life blaming others for how my life is turning out or realise that when I blame others, I am simply driving 'my car of life' with a blindfold on.
If people want to hold onto a version of me that no longer exists, it is not my job to prove it to them. If it is not in my control, I best not let it control my thoughts despite how difficult that is to do sometimes. I will not let others control how I feel about myself.
Wake up each day with the true, simple belief that today and right now is all that really matters. Yesterday is a memory, learn from it or leave it and tomorrow is a concept, so how much of your real-time are you going to waste on the idea of tomorrow when today is standing right here, ready to go?
Also, remember to forgive yourself each night for the mistakes you took that day because there will be missed steps, even though I can’t do that sometimes in it's entirety, I continue to try.
Let’s not go back to the old normal that everyone longs for, let’s create a more kindly, more generous, inviting future for ourselves and others. Let’s create a place where forgiveness, understanding and empathy, for ourselves and others, runs rampant.