Patty Chang Anker

Some Nerve

Ready, Set….D'oh!

When Fresh Starts Become False Starts

Posted Feb 06, 2015

It’s like every time the proverbial starting gun goes off, I trip and fall on my face. Since the new year, I’ve already resolved to go back to the gym pool and arrived without my swim bag, marked next week on the calendar to work on a book proposal only to discover one of the kids has 10:30 am dismissal every day of it, planned to write a blog about fresh starts and gotten interrupted so many times it’s become one about false starts instead.  Not to mention my intention to forego wine during the week, which lasted til Thursday because sometimes you just really need the week to be over!

If you’re like me, all the things (from sick days to snow days to unexpected assignments and broken appliances) that can derail our good intentions can make it feel like we weren’t meant to follow through on those best-laid plans. I tried! It just wasn’t meant to be! There’s always 2016! But that way lies this old cycle of doing things one way and wishing I could change and feel better, hitting a stumbling block, giving up and then feeling worse about not having changed. For me, the only way to break the cycle is to:

1) Accept some delays. Things come up – that’s okay. It doesn’t mean I’m a bad person. It also isn’t a sign from the universe that I should stop trying. In fact, it may be a sign from the universe that I should keep trying.

2) Recommit to the important plans daily and remind myself why. The day I forgot my gym bag I went home and got it, and felt doubly virtuous when I finished my pool workout. This is important because I want to do a sprint triathlon this summer and if I don’t practice swimming through the winter I will drown! (Not everyone needs such dire consequences to motivate themselves to exercise but I do). And I will get the book proposal done because this story wants to be written and if I don’t do it no one else will – anyone want to take my kid for a day? Anyone?

3) Seek support or create support – I started a Facebook Group for people to post their fitness goals and workouts, and every time someone posts it motivates me. 

The truth is, we may think we're simplifying our lives and reducing stress and anxiety when we let go of our resolutions, but we actually create doubt and disappointment in ourselves and have less confidence the next time we set a goal. Seeing every obstacle as an invitation to keep trying gives us the opportunity to focus on something positive in the middle of our hectic and unpredictable lives. By doing more, we can actually reduce anxiety and enjoy life more. 

How about you – how do you handle false starts? How do you keep going for your goals?