Think back to your mindset this past January...what areas of growth in your health and life were you contemplating? What specific changes were you wanting to make?
When you thought 'this is my year' to do ___________, what was it?
Do you recall how the imagining energy felt in your body? Excitement? Hope?
Now, contrast all of that to the progress you've made towards those desired changes as of today, December 1st.
You may have made tremendous progress on those things, and if so, bravo! I hope you've celebrated yourself all along the way and keep on going!
If by chance you haven't made as much progress as you'd hoped, or heck, maybe you abandoned your goals altogether, what if there was still time?
Could December be your month of new possibilities?
To use the power of possibilities thinking, we first have to talk about the elephant in the room: all or nothing thinking. You know what I'm talking about right?!
Too many take this failed approach when it comes to lifestyle change. They think, if I can't reach my goal by the end of the year, why bother, I'll just get started again January 1st. Done enough times, people get so demoralized they start to think things will never change and give up year-round.
And let's be honest for a moment - how does throwing up your hands in defeat and reinforcing a hopeless, why bother mindset help you enjoy the holiday season more? Really think about that. It's not like that nagging voice in your head telling you all the ways you're not doing what you said was important goes away. Often the voice just gets more mean and louder. Talk about a holiday buzz-killer.
The all or nothing mindset falsely makes a person think there are only one of two options, keep putting forth consistent time and effort towards reaching your goals, OR give yourself a full pass and give up entirely until the supposed magical date of January 1st. The thinking goes, how can I fully enjoy the holiday season if I'm working on health and lifestyle changes (particularly around food, weight and exercise), as though there’s no opportunity to do both even in small, tiny ways.
Does this resonate with you?
The most common reason for the mindset, or belief, might be ambivalence creeping in. That is, feeling on the fence about things and reconsidering if the effort is worth it? Not only is the effort worth it, but will any measure of progress last?
Sadly, most of us were taught the holidays are mainly for indulging and excess, so it's no wonder effort towards habit change would be in opposition to that. Change is uncomfortable, unfamiliar and can seem restrictive, or worse, punishing during the most difficult phases.
Given all that, I gotta call BS on this kind of all or nothing thinking! I know with certainty there's a LOT that can be done between all or nothing.
Exploring possibilities is all about working within the spectrum that exists between those two opposites.
If you'd like to transform December into a month of possibility thinking that supports increasing your confidence and determination before the new year kicks off, try the possibilities game.
Step 1: Decide to suspend all past history of lifestyle or habit change you've had during the month of December - you're in a new headspace and willing to experiment.
Step 2: Brainstorm, with pen and paper, what small things you could do, that when you do, increase your level of confidence. BIG NOTE: they don't need to directly tie to your health and/or lifestyle change goal(s), but they should be things that you'd consider healthier options. The purpose is to train the mind to trust yourself more that you'll do what you said you'd do that day.
Step 3: armed with your long list of tiny, small things you could do throughout December to elevate your confidence, each morning when you wake up, within the first 15 minutes, look at your list and pick one item. Just one, then plan and decide how you'll accomplish it on that day. You can pick items from your list more than once throughout the month.
Step 4: during the last hour of your day, before you fall asleep, look at your list again and spend 10-15 seconds reviewing how your day went with regards to your chosen item. This is not a time to judge, condemn or be critical of yourself. The possibilities game is all about learning and evolving. Be curious and honest with yourself. If you find you have trouble following through, explore what would improve your odds as you go forward? Need reminders, how? Mind rationalizing or talking you out of it - could a mantra or countering phrase help? No time excuse - make the action step so incredibly tiny you can't honestly look yourself in the mirror and believe you don't have time. Remember, this is all about doing what you say you'll do when your self-care is the task at-hand and when you do, feeling that sense of confidence and accomplishment. This is fuel for greater and greater progress.
Step 5: At the end of each week, whatever day of the week that is for you, take 5 minutes to review your possibilities list - add to it, tweak it, get creative and add in a bit of whimsy. Things like:
-turn on music while I cook dinner
-dance in the shower
-spend 1 minute in silence while sipping my water/coffee/tea
-text a friend with a supportive or acknowledging message
-take three full breaths before picking up your digital device and inwardly express gratitude for being alive.
You might be reading this Possibilities Game list and thinking to yourself it's too simple and won't work for you, or worse, still believing unless it's BIG steps of action with amazing results, it's not worth doing (all or nothing thinking). What if you're wrong?
What if this December is unlike past December's because you made it a month of possibilities?
What if by doing so, it opens up something within you that leads to long term positive results? The mindset shift you've been hoping for?
You won't know unless you try, and isn't doing something better than throwing your hands up and giving up altogether?
Wishing you a month filled with possibilities,
PS - need help with creating your possibilities list? I'd be happy to brainstorm it with you. Simply hit the reply button to this email and send me the list you've come up with (even if it only has one or two things on it) and tell me what you're striving for in the areas of health and/or life changes, and I'll send you back some additional ideas to explore. Together, we're stronger!!
PPS - if you'd like to self-study a bit more about how ambivalence plays a role in your efforts to make lasting change, here's an insightful psychotherapy article.
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