Op Ed . . . Overcoming Obstacles

120316-A-XN107-604 Soldiers climb an obstacle during a noncommissioned officer professional development event at Fort Bragg, N.C., on March 16, 2012. The soldiers, assigned to the U.S. Army Reserve Command headquarters, negotiated the obstacles and provided teamwork when necessary to complete each station. DoD photo by Timothy L. Hale, U.S. Army. (Released)

By Lindy Earl

At the end of the year so many people write New Year’s Resolutions.  I have to wonder why people wait to make positive changes in their lives.  Isn’t this something we should do every day of the year? If you want to exercise more, or lose weight, or change jobs, why wait for a date on the calendar?

So I wonder what is keeping people from starting, and maintaining, positive changes?  You can brainstorm with me here –

I think just not knowing how to start is probably the biggest reason.  If I knew what exercise would work for me in the long term it would be easier to start today.  If I better understood food combinations and what I can eat versus dieting by food deprivation and removing all carbs and sweets from my diet I would be more motivated to eat healthy.

Second, I think habit is a reason people don’t start.  Getting up to exercise, shopping differently either at new stores or just from a different list, is changing habits that are comfortable.  The theory that it takes three weeks to make or break a habit has never proven true for me.  I have found it takes much longer.  If you want to change your lifestyle, I think you need great motivation and maybe an accountability partner when you begin.

I believe boredom may be a reason people don’t stick with their plans and resolutions.  Exercise can be playing ball or dancing, not just walking or jogging.  They may cost more in terms of time and money, but if the new exercise will last, and you are enjoying yourself as well as exercising, then you are worth the investment.

So once you discern why you aren’t doing the things that you know you should, whatever day of the year it is, it may be easier to start.  But then you need to stick with it.  What will help you?

Accountability!  Yes, as mentioned above, find an accountability partner. Make it someone who is really going to hold you to your goals.  They don’t have to share your goals. In fact they may be more of a mentor and someone to whom you report.  It helps!

Rewards.  I work too much.  I know I do.  I need to give myself rewards as I can claim achievements.  It can be small, like a night off, or an indulgence, as in a hobby.  It can be bigger, like a vacation. It may be an on-going reward – maybe you need a regular massage or weekly meals out.

Inner peace.  When you find yourself full of angst, verbally attacking others with a short temper or just high expectations . . . when you realize you are just unhappy and lacking contentment, it is definitely time to implement changes.  You are smart.  You are going to set goals that mean something.  Remind yourself that sticking with them will make you feel better about yourself.  You may not love exercising, but you will love having exercised.  You may not enjoy dieting, but you love losing weight.  You may not want to look for a job, but you’ll love having a new position.  Think forward to the end result to keep yourself motivated.  Just taking action will make you feel good about yourself.

Whatever obstacle you want to overcome, and everybody has obstacles, you can do it.  It’s a very personal thing, but the process remains the same.  Determine what you want.  Discern what is keeping you from moving forward.  Learn, possibly by trial and error, what will keep you focused and motivated.  Find a mentor or accountability partner if necessary. What works for others may not work for you.  Do it your way, but do it.

            Lindy is a Speaker, Columnist, Author, and Consultant.

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