Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Auld Lang Syne

Ok, so this post is rather "late" compared to most of the blogosphere. But what do you want from me, my brain got into major "vacation mode" and I was not into doing much other than eating, sleeping and watching movies. Actually my brain is still in that mode, but unfortunately I was forced to come back to work today against my will. Anyhoo, I must say it was rather nice not to follow any blogs or any such thing for 10 days. It's good to "unplug" and give your brain a break once in a while...

But back to reality! New Year - New You. That is the current refrain on everyone's lips right now.

To be honest, I have mixed feelings about New Years resolutions - I think it's great to set goals for yourself and this is as good a time as any to do so, however I think many people put unnecessary pressure on themselves to meet very high, unrealistic expectations (trust me, I know; I have a lot of practice in this area). I think a lot of it is setting yourself up for failure, and what's the point in that? Also I think it's important to be constantly thinking about what you want to achieve and reevaluating that based on circumstances rather than painting yourself into a corner once a year because you feel like you should (but don't really want to).

It's possible to take stock and set goals for yourself without going overboard. It's important to be realistic about your personality and lifestyle, and what you can reasonably accomplish within those parameters. It's also important to place importance on small victories and not just huge, sweeping changes; you don't have to completely turn your life and who you are around in order to grow and challenge yourself.

Before the holidays when I was in a "gung-ho" mood, I made a huge list of resolutions I wanted to follow in the new year, complete with sub-goals and headings (dork alert!). But something shifted over the holidays so that when I looked at the list again a few days ago (keeping in mind that copious amounts of chocolate, gin and laying around could have something to do with my new apathetic attitude) I balked at the ambition of it. Again, nothing wrong with ambition, but there comes a point when ambition becomes crazy and goals become completely overwhelming and therefore, unachieveable.

I decided 'screw that' and decided to severely edit my list of goals.

Don't get me wrong, I still want to meet all of the goals on my original list at some point and they have not all been completely taken off the table. I just felt there were particular goals that were more immediately important than others. I can always revisit the others at another time, but I think it would foolish to put them all over my head right NOW. I am opting to "generalize" the list, both to leave wiggle-room and to not make my brain explode with pressure. I think this is more fair to me, and as a result I feel I'll be more likely to actually ACHIEVE these goals (and at a gradual pace, not overnight). I mean, that's the whole point of them, isn't it?

Some of these goals are ongoing and are things I'd like to work on over several years not just one, but I at least want to get the ball rolling on them. I have specific tactics in mind for some of these goals, but for many I'm leaving the specifics open; I have various ideas about how to achieve/work on them, but have yet to decide for sure which are best. Just as I am a work-in-progress, it is only fair to look at my goal-meeting as such.

In this spirit, I hereby present my (general) list of goals for 2011:

1. To relax - Generally speaking, I'm a worry-wart. I mull things over and over, look way too far ahead, obsess about silly details like what the people around me are thinking about me, what is going to happen with this or that, etc. I carry a lot of tension in my neck, jaw and shoulders and tie my stomach into indigestive knots. I can be a very anxious person and can actually make myself so nervous that my chest tightens, heart beats fast, breathing becomes laboured and my head hurts. Furthermore, I'm very impatient and can sometimes have a short fuse (e.g. I snap at my sister more than I should) so I need to work on stopping and checking myself before reacting.

The thing with my anxiety is, it's ALL in my head. It's how I REACT to the things around me rather than what is actually happening around me that causes this. And most of the time it's completely unwarranted. I want to learn to take things as they come, only worry about things when they happen (not before or after), be more spontaneous, laugh more, and think more positively.

Tactics to start: Contemplating giving meditation a try (someone turned me onto a 6 week workshop online that could be easy/good intro). Other than this, no specific tactics aside from practicing more positive/relaxed thinking. This is obviously something that will be tough to change but a mind-set IS something you can control if you really try and are patient, so those are two things I plan on doing (trying/being patient). This is an ongoing goal.

2. To lose weight - I know, I know EVERYONE wants to do this at the beginning of a new year, but this is an issue I've struggled with for a few years now. It's nothing new; I attempted to kick myself in the butt last year but only lost about 5lbs and completely fell off the wagon after about a month. This, of course, is the constant dance for overweight people - one step forward, two steps back. All you can do is pick yourself up, run after that wagon and get back on as many times as it takes. I'm certainly not excited about this goal and who really knows if I will stick with it this time either, but I have to try and a new year seems as good a time as any to start. Besides, I have a couple of things in my favour: One, I'm actually a fairly healthy person - I don't have any chronic health problems, food allergies or medications that add fuel to the fire. Two, I have a small frame, which means I can lose less weight and make a bigger difference to my physique (compared to taller, larger framed people). I don't need to make a HUGE life change in order to look and feel better - I just need to make some small daily changes, and stick with them beyond a few weeks.

Tactics to start: I would like to focus on losing 10 lbs to start, as I feel this will make a huge difference in how I look and feel and meeting this goal will motivate me to go further (though I should note it's not so much about the number on the scale as how I feel and how my clothes fit). To start, I'm simply going to limit my sugar and carb intake (I eat A LOT of this kind of stuff), focus on eating more veggies and protein, and get more regular exercise (I currently walk to work, but I also need to build muscle by working with weights a few times a week and doing more consistent activity (e.g. I sit all day at work so need to make more effort to get up and move outside work hours). I would like to get back into yoga (once p. week) if I can find an inexpensive, convenient class or some other workout class (I took Zumba a couple of times in the Fall and it was really fun). Until a get a new job (see 3rd goal below), I will be limited to exercise options that are either free or close to free, but I can always take walks or hikes, and watch workout dvd's or videos online. One thing I know I need is variety and flexibilty so I will most likely change up my workout routine each week/month depending on my schedule and options. Other tactics include: family friends are doing a weight loss challenge I am thinking of participating in. I would also like to become better at cooking and this will relate because I will be (ideally) eating more home-cooked meals. Other small daily gestures such as taking the stairs, drinking lots of water, and not buying junk when I get groceries will also help keep healthy eating habits going. This is an ongoing goal.

3. To make strides in my professional life - 2010 was an extremely frustrating and demeaning year in this area. Long story short is I have been struggling to find a job since last March with no luck and with constant refrains of "you don't have enough experience". Basically, my career is non-existent. The last half of 2010 I did a lot of reflecting, thinking, researching, talking to people, etc, to attempt to figure out what I want from this part of my life in the long-term, while conducting a job search in the background. So, technically this is a goal that has already been put into motion and I simply want to continue building on it in 2011. I have two job possibilities that I'm currently waiting on, so a lot depends on what happens with those. In any case this is something I really hope to make progress on in 2011 because having a good career is really important to me and I feel I've paid my dues.

Tactics to start: First order of business is to find a new full-time job (my current temp position does not pay enough - I'm struggling financially - not to mention it's completely devoid of challenge, creativity or flexibility, which are all things I need in a career). Once this happens, I will go from there, but I know one of the first things I will want to do is improve my financial stability (buy an RRSP, pay off debt, develop a strict budget, start putting money into savings). In addition, I haven't taken the possibility of further education off the table. I have a couple of options in mind (I wrote about my explorations in this area here and the advice really helped me come to some realizations), but am leaning towards a program I can complete part-time and through self-study so that I will be able to continue working full-time during completion. I would simply like to expand my skill-set and have a service I can begin offering on the side to make extra money and keep my career options open. This is an ongoing goal that will continue to morph based on developments over the next couple of months.

I have many other goals, both large and small, that I would love to achieve this year (paint and draw  more regularly, work harder at cultivating new friendships, build the blog), but I figured these three were enough to focus on, at least for now. Again, it's all about being realistic and not putting too much pressure on myself. Also, I know that if I improve in these three areas that the empowerment, increased self-esteem and improved physical/mental well-being I will (hopefully) experience will reverberate throughout all areas of my life and therefore make achieving some of the other smaller, more specific goals easier.

*EEK! Sorry for the long-windedness! Perhaps that's something I should work on in 2011 too...*
Here's to challenging yourself and always striving to grow and live fully!
What are your goals for 2011? Do you make new years resolutions?


silvii tron said...

With #2 one tip thats helped me is Cardio exercises http://www.fitsugar.com/Get-Up-Your-Heart-Rate-Interval-Sprints-Treadmill-1628803. Hopefully you will find this article useful!
I also find eating healthy is not just the key component but the size of your portions helps i.e. not overfilling or pilling your plate.
Also change up your exercises every month or else your body gets used to the same routine, like giving a 10 year old an ABC book to learn - your body needs a challenge.

I don't have any resolutions because I'll just procrastinate over that one and never keep it. I'll just stick to easier goals for now like, watch more indie movies and read more books.

Kim Humes said...

Thanks for the site! I'll definitely check it out! That's the great thing about the internet is there are so many free services out there, you don't need to join a gym anymore to get fit (or even go outside your home!). You're right about portion size too - I think I eat larger portions than I THINK I do if that makes sense so I need to watch that.

Allison said...

I'm trying not to break my own heart (repeatedly) this year - and have only a few "fun" things that I'd like to do. While I know I need to lose weight and get a new job, those tasks are scary and disappointing to me.

I wrote a post about it here:


Joe said...

Love the cartoon. I'd say its a "to-do list" for the first 2 days :)

Good luck with ur resolutions.

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