Baby Stepping Your Way to Success in the New Year
I always view this time of year, New Year’s, with a bit of humor, a pinch of cynicism, and a more than slightly jaundiced eye. Really. What is so almighty special about January 1? The New Year carries with it a desire for clean slates. All over America there are men, women and children making New Year’s resolutions they have very little chance of achieving; resolving to “be better,” as if working ahead to earn points for making the next issue of Santa’s Nice List. New Year’s Resolutions are impossibly intangible and often lofty ideals that set us up for failure before we even begin.
New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Work
We resolve to be better spouses. We’ll be better parents. We’ll keep our tempers and bite our tongues and be better friends and relatives. And dangit! THIS will be the year we get a handle on our eating! We WILL lose weight. And EXERCISE. Dammit! We WILL exercise! We’ll eat more green veggies and consume less sugar and grain. We’ll foreswear packaged foods and give drive-through’s the one finger salute. We’ll pledge allegiance to our pre-holiday low carb way of eating and solemnly vow to never let another Little Debbie Iced Christmas Tree through our pie hole.
And we’ll change EVERYTHING we don’t like about ourselves – at one time – at the very same time, without even contemplating the basic definition of success. Tell me, please? How can anyone ever achieve success when you don’t quantify what constitutes success? How much better is “better”? It’s safe to assume my better is defined differently than your better. Additionally, we paint these broad brush resolutions based on loosey-goosey ideals, then we beat ourselves senseless for not achieving them.
Yeah, how’s that working out for ya?
And sure, we’re good to go for a week or two. We determinedly stick to our ephemeral resolutions and tow the company line. And we register we are making some small level of personal improvement. And we feel better about ourselves. And everything looks like it’s going splendidly. This year, you just might make your resolutions stick – after all, doesn’t it take 2 weeks to kick off a new habit?
Then wam! It hits you smack in the face.
“Hello (your name here), it’s me, Life. Aren’t you gonna invite me in?”
And you reply, “Oh crap!” The first hit of reality is so hard, maybe you even see stars for a second!
Suddenly the last two weeks are dust; just so many disappointed intentions on the curb and you’re back at square one. And you beat yourself up. The self-flagellation continues and all thoughts of resolution are gone. Heck, you might even be further behind than you were when you started your New Year’s Resolutions.
And per my favorite quote it seems, “The beatings will continue until morale improves.”
And because you feel like the main ingredient in a craptastic sandwich, you backslide. You eat a few more bites of leftover holiday Christmas cookies followed by the last of the eggnog (heavy on the nog), and maybe a few handfuls of chips and popcorn – or the whole bowl full. And heck, let’s just finish off those Christmas tamales!
Vicious cycles ensue and before you know it, all those “bad” habits you sought to escape have come home to roost with 7 of their toughest cousins as back-up. Before you know it, it’s June and you’re asking yourself how on earth you managed to regain all your weight in less than six months!
My People Are Not Resolute
Let me get one thing straight right here. My people are not big on resolutions. We are not resolute. We may resolve one day and recant the next. Resolve and Recant. Sounds like a great political ticket, right? But unfortunately, I’m from a long line of flip-flopping, wishy-washers.
In our family, we admit we’re capable of making a decision one day then go from 0-180° in 3.9 seconds, effectively nullifying said conviction within the blink of an eye. I remember asking Daddy what resolutions he planned to make for the New Year and he answered, “I’m resolving to NOT make any resolutions!” And that, was that. I said if Daddy could resolve to un-resolve, so could I. And that was the end of the New Year’s Day Resolution for me.
You will read on all the fitness and wellness sites about the power of positive thinking and around New Year’s you will read tip after tip about staying on track to attain your resolutions. Some of them like Spark People have really terrific tips for setting New Year’s Resolutions. And if you do a search here at CarbSmart for resolutions, we have our fair share of dynamite posts concentrated upon staring resolve right square in the eye (including Dana Carpender’s 2013 New Year’s Resolution article It’s That Time Of Year Again! Choose Your Low Carb Resolutions!).
But what if…
What if we remove resolutions from our dictionary? What if we resolve to wave farewell to the grandiose January 1, New Year’s Day Resolutions? What if we attack this whole resolution nonsense differently? What if we decide to set goals instead of resolutions? What if, instead of promising “NOT” to do something, we set small, incremental, attainable baby step goals toward “DOING” or achieving something positive? What if we limit the number of goals we set at one time? After all, any athlete knows you can’t work on the entire part of your game simultaneously. You have to work on changing one thing at a time.
Is one goal weight loss? Is one goal getting back on the low carb wagon? Is a goal related to fitness and increasing activity? Do you desire to work smarter, not harder? Do you seek to balance your life better between work, family, friends and you? Do you want to view life with a new filter of happiness and warmth? Do you want to increase relaxation and be a “Glass-Half-Full-Kinda-Guy”?Y Great! Can those goals be quantified? Now sit down and quantify the end point. Where is the definition of success. Be very concrete in outlining these definitions.
What if the key to attaining and maintaining your resolutions doesn’t lay in “absolutes”? What if you didn’t think in black or white? What if you took life in small increments – like those baby steps we mentioned above? I don’t know about you, but I have trouble committing to anything for a “lifetime”, but I do fine making commitments that last for one day. I mean, come on! Anyone can do something for one single day, right?
I propose this year that you join me. Let’s say sayonara to New Year’s Resolutions!
Let’s not make those huge, grandiose resolutions. Instead, let’s set 3 short term, very specific, quantifiable goals together that can be accomplished by incremental baby steps each day. When you attain those initial 3 goals, you have the power to renew them, choose new or additional goals, or go into maintenance to retain the goal objectives, etc.
And just for grins, the only black and white thinking we will do will be to agree to NOT make this whole set-up about the future. Let’s pretend the goals last just for that one single day. Then the next morning when we wake up? You guessed it. We make a commitment to our three goals for the fresh new day. Remember, it’s not about perfection. And it’s not about a lifetime. It’s only for one day.
Before long you will be able to look back on a whole slew of “Just One Days” and they will align and make sense, leading you along the path toward your goals. In retrospect, you might see that you deviated from the path to take a scenic bypass for a step or two, an hour or two – then you returned to your goal path. That’s ok. Life happens as you’re following plans. Simply reaffirm your goals – making the next very best choice and get back to your commitment for the day. Then the next morning, wake up, and recommit to those goals.
Write your goals down and commit them to paper, give them life via the pen – but only for today. Writing your goals down and then reading them aloud makes goals concrete. Each day, rewrite your three goals down and speak them aloud. Give life to your goals via the power of the pen and spoken word. Visualize what if feels like to have achieved your goals. Feels great, right? See yourself as having achieved.
I believe if we follow these steps, we will realize 80-90% of our assigned goals – maybe more – making positive changes to our lives. We’ll call this the “What About Bob Plan for Baby Stepping Our Way To Success.” Do you remember the hilarious, Bill Murray movie, What About Bob? Bob had several “issues” – and don’t we all? But Bob baby stepped his way to mental health and achieved his goals by making small, incremental changes to his life. He transformed from a hopelessly house-bound neurotic into a successful author and psychologist, helping people achieve success by baby stepping their way through life. If Bob can do it, so can we!
Baby steps. It’s all about the Baby Steps!
Here are the rules to Baby Stepping to Success
1. Set 3 small quantifiable goals.
(i.e. If you want to lose 100lbs, set your goal at 5 or 10 pounds. Reach the goal, then reset. If you seek to return to clean low carb eating and don’t feel able to maintain 100% compliance, ditch the major high carbage offenders for two weeks as part of your first step. In Texas, we call this “comin’ in through the back porch. After two weeks, add further low carb restrictions such as hitting a specific carb range such as 50-60g of net carbs. After two weeks, review your weight loss and determine if you need to further reduce your carb intake. See where we’re going with this?)
2. Reject and Replace.
(i.e. Defer Black ‘n’ White Thinkin’ in favor of pragmatism and self-acceptance. Ok, so you start the day strong and by 3pm you’re face down in a bowl of chips and queso. It happens. The world won’t stop and you aren’t a loser…maybe you’re just a Texan at heart on a blood sugar roller coaster?
No beatings, no mental lashings, no self-flagellation. Simply resolve at that point to make your next bite of food meet the dietary goals you set for today. Make the next best choice and get right back on plan.
Strive for 80% compliance in the first 2 weeks. After 2 weeks, raise your compliance level to 85 – 90%. Maintain at that level and play games with your mind to sprinklin’ in days where you are 100% compliant with your plan. Try to see how many days of 100% compliance you can string together. If you have an occasional day of 50% compliance or even 30% compliance, it’s ok. Move on and return to your touchstone of daily, quantifiable completely reachable goals.
Visualize yourself experiencing a successful day and making great choices. It may sound silly, but get a calendar and a set of gold and silver star stickers. Every day you achieve the daily portions of your 3 goals, give yourself a gold star. If you meet 80% of your compliance goal, give yourself a silver star. Anything over 80% gets that gold star. I swear. I cain’t MAKE this stuff up. It works.)
3. Commit Daily.
(i.e. Each day commit to taking the measures necessary to reach those 3 goals for 24 hours only –
Recommit each morning. Every morning. Wake up. Go pee. Then hunker down with your winning, achieving self and recommit to your daily goals for this new 24 hour period. Now achieve them. You can do it. We can do it.)
4. Daily Opportunity for Rebirth.
(i.e. Remember, every day is an opportunity to reinvent yourself and upgrade to the 2.0 version of yourself. There is nothing magical about January 1. Resolutions are impractical and are based on all or nothing, totalitarian thinking with exacting and unrealistic measures of compliance.
Make each day a brand new clean slate. No holdovers. No regrets or shameful dialogue.
Rewrite history by determining a new future – one day at a time, one incremental baby step at a time.)
Don’t look down that path. Keep your eyes focused on today, this moment, this second, this one baby step in time.
Three little goals.
Three little rules plus a bonus affirmation.
What do you say? Are ya with me on this? Drop a comment below and let me know your three goals.
Susie Snax #6
Warm Brie with Cranberry Pomegranate Chutney on Granny Smith Apple Slices
- 1 1/2 ounce Brie Cheese
- 1 tablespoon Cranberry Pomegranate Chutney
- 1 ounce Granny Smith apple
- Place brie on a microwave safe plate. Microwave at 10 second intervals until brie is soft and warm but not melted.
- Top with Cranberry Pomegranate Chutney.
- Serve with crackers or sliced veggies or fruit.
Per Serving: 167 Calories; 13g Fat (66.4% calories from fat); 9g Protein; 5g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 43mg Cholesterol; 283mg Sodium; 3g Net Carbs.
Serve the warm brie with cranberry chutney on walnut crackers, almond thins or on sliced firm fruit such as Granny Smith apple or under ripe pear. This is also great on sliced radishes and also on sliced kohlrabi.
Susie T’s Notes:
We love to ditch the crackers and go for an easy DDS (Dip Delivery System), like sliced crisp radish or red bell pepper wedges. Or, you can go with sliced Granny Smith apples for a satisfyingly delicious snack.
If you feel like going crazy, break open the low carb Walnut Crackers and have a blast.
Cost per serving: $0.74
Cheers to a happy and prosperous New Year to you and yours!
What are your goals for 2013? Let us know in the comments below.