Updated: Jan 19
Legal Disclaimer: The following content is not therapy advice and just my personal opinion. 1)Define your values, then you resolutions and goals. Of course, we have those re-occurring goals that may have haunted us over the years that seemingly slip away as Spring rolls around and we get comfortable again. This year, rather than going for your generic and repetitive goals, try to start fresh by defining and prioritizing your values.
Your values are going to be the foundation of your choices, aspirations, resolutions, and goals. Think about what you remember about your heroes, the great figures of history, and the people whose quotes line your wall. They're remembered for what they achieved and their reasons making those sacrifices.
Prompt: Focus on your present values. Focusing on your present and authentic values will reduce your stress, avoidance, and become receptive towards feedback in pursuit of your goals.
Now to avoid confusion, values are not goals. Values are the vast moral and ethical guides to living. Values are the sea and our goals are the waves, crashing down one after another, while the sea is in constant flow.
Here's the tricky part. Sometimes our goals can get in the way of our values. That's why honesty is key. Go towards your authentic aspirations. If I make a superficial financial goal to reach $100,000 in the next year and throw myself into that goal, I may be avoiding my authentic desire to get into an athletic competition or artistic endeavor, since pursuing a financial goal can be the superficial route. The pain of losing at something we really care about can make use retreat into other more socially acceptable goals. Even the way we link goals together like, "If I get married by this age, then I'll be able to have children, which will then allow me to (insert next benchmark here)." Sometimes, we set ourselves up for failure to prove to ourselves that we aren't worthy, that we're inadequate/unlovable, etc. So the key is to link your values with your goals. Don't take a goal sold to you or socialized into you by your peers, society, family, corporations/advertisers, etc. Sit in and meditate on your values. A quick google search of, "ACT value list" will give you a hundred alphabetized values to choose from. A great resource is from Dr, Russ Harris, www.actmindfully.com.au. Some values I like are acceptance (being open and accepting of myself, others, life, etc.), adventure (to actively create, seek, or explore novel or stimulating experiences), authenticity (to respectfully stand up for my rights and request what I want), contribution (to contribute, help, assist, or make a positive difference to myself or others), humility (to be humble or modest and to let my achievements speak for themselves), persistence (to continue resolutely, despite problems or difficulties). 2) Now that I know my values, I can courageously make my authentic goals and resolutions in a way that I can commit to. Cause when the going gets tough, the tough get going. That toughness that pushes you past breaking point is tied to the clear and naked truth of your values. So as we all know with starting anything new, the first days and weeks are the hardest in building a habit. When I got back on the wrestling mat after months away, I twisted my ankle just from how off my body was. But I count my success in showing up, taking those consistent actions, and getting better along the way, no matter how embarrassing it got.
3) Get specific about your goals. Ever notice how, when you set a timed goal, have a deadline, or have a set number of exercises you're going to perform, your focus kicks into gear? That's because your goal-oriented, motivated, and your focus is honed into a specific number. Set a SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-sensitive) goal. SMART goals are what my organization uses to hone people towards movement and growth. Sure, when you're starting out, just going outside for a walk is a good step. But after a while you're going to want to get SMART with your goal, like "jogging for 15 minutes at a 6 MPH pace by next month.".
4)Adapt, recoup, and reorganize. Here's where being flexible is key without cheating yourself. This is the point where you've proven you're mentally tough and can be honest about how to adapt your goals. This is about being strategic and not lowering the intensity of your aspirations. Often after matches or practices, I'd like to take long walks home by myself to reflect and introspect on where I went wrong, what i want to do better, and how I can make those dreams happen. Those introspective walks were pivotal in my growth during the off-season and especially during the season in-between bouts. Journaling was my go-to and I still have those same high school and college journals in my room to remind me of the process I had to go though. 5) Get accountable and have faith in the process.
The road to change is hard. Even harder is maintaining that change. Because once the honeymoon phase wears off and the novelty dies down, you're going to start dipping in motivation. This is where it's helpful to see what has helped you in the past to maintain progress or commit towards further change. Sometimes it means making it social, adding an accountabili-buddy, and lifting each other up when the going gets tough. Build on these steps and remember to enjoy the creativity and joys the process brings you.
Here’s a poem for you about staying true to your values that’s helped me along the way. The poem is called, “Guy In The Glass” by Dale Wimbrow, (c) 1934 and can be found on his family’s website https://www.theguyintheglass.com/gig.htm :
“When you get what you want in your struggle for pelf,
And the world makes you King for a day,
Then go to the mirror and look at yourself,
And see what that guy has to say.
For it isn't your Father, or Mother, or Wife,
Who judgement upon you must pass.
The feller whose verdict counts most in your life
Is the guy staring back from the glass.
He's the feller to please, never mind all the rest,
For he's with you clear up to the end,
And you've passed your most dangerous, difficult test
If the guy in the glass is your friend.
You may be like Jack Horner and "chisel" a plum,
And think you're a wonderful guy,
But the man in the glass says you're only a bum
If you can't look him straight in the eye.
You can fool the whole world down the pathway of years,
And get pats on the back as you pass,
But your final reward will be heartaches and tears
If you've cheated the guy in the glass.”