We are days away from the new year and many of us go through this process of comparing our beginning of the year resolutions with the end of the year “accomplishments.” This process can be depressing if you are not careful because we tend to be pretty hard on ourselves, am I right? …. “I did not lose all those lbs …” or “I did not finish XYZ” and “My house is not looking as I thought it should by now.”
Over the years, I have heard a lot of people speaking about not setting too big of goals at the beginning of the year in order to stay with them and not lose interest / motivation by February. You know, when King Cake season prevents you from “being good” and stuffing your face for a week, making us believe all is lost and we just quit trying (this may be a food example but you get the idea).
I am learning (yes, it is still a process) that things don’t always look like we picture them but that doesn’t make them less important or meaningful. So, maybe you did eat half (or the whole) king cake but that doesn’t take away the fact that 80% of the week/month you ate a lot better than you used to … attainable goals, my friends … perfection does not exist.
I have to thank my kids particularly for this “new” approach to life evaluations.
My first-born, in particular, is my best teacher. He has been showing me that he will hit all these milestones whenever he gets there. Yes, it takes practice and work but he gets there, maybe not at school-standardized-time or at by-this-age-this-child-should-be time. He can’t always keep up with the crowd but that doesn’t make it less of an accomplishment when it happens. And it all happens.
I have had meetings with his teachers where I am told that he is not reading at the level he should and we are working on strategies to help him get there. Even though I wish these conversations were not needed, I am not freaking out as much as I used to because I am seeing progress and quite a bit of it at that. We practice and work on it and it is paying off, maybe not as quickly as the rest of the group or as expected, but I do see him trying and succeeding. And it makes me so proud.
Comparison is the death of joy…
I was never a runner, not even a jogger to be honest, still not either BUT I have been working on it and concentrating on getting stronger and trying not to compare myself to the super hot thin looking woman next to me running 4 miles in the time it takes me to run 2. I have days that I can push myself to hit new personal records and others I am happy just surviving a class (without crying or puking).
It does pay off if we are consistent and benevolent with ourselves, in every area. I hit my personal record for a 5K this year by quite a bit, but my hot treadmill neighbor still outruns me for a few miles and is fine. Maybe she is working on her record as well and is as proud of her 4 miles as I am of my 2 miles. I might never run as fast, but trust me I AM outrunning my past self by far. And that is awesome.
I am now trying to teach my perfectionist 5-year-old the same philosophy that took me so long to learn. You couldn’t do this last year and now, although it doesn’t look perfect, it is a lot better than it was and that is amazing. That is progress and that is what we are looking for. Perfect and easy makes us lazy and makes the finish line not as meaningful, in my opinion.
If we think about it, we can approach every aspect of our lives this way … jobs, relationships, school, wellness, etc. It is okay to push ourselves to get there, but is it fair to take all credit away if it is not perfect? Is it fair to compare ourselves to our “successful” neighbor when we all started from different spots?
I hope that this end of the year “evaluation” finds you proud of your progress and eager to keep striving for more, more faith in yourselves and patience when we are human and a king cake crosses our paths. We can eat the cake, enjoy it (because we deserve to enjoy yummy food) AND still work on our fitness / wellness goals.
Have a wonderful New Year!