Last year I wrote a blog post about using positive language when writing your goals. I thought I was on to something at the time but now I'm not so sure. This year I have a new plan for those pesky New Years Resolutions, and it's called: Goals! Schmoals!
I've been realizing that I am always interested in improving myself, in a general sense- and all year long, not just in January. Why should I go to the trouble of adding extra ideas on top of all that I already do? When it's been proven time and again that New Years Resolutions peter out before March and are unsustainable? I feel like this whole lark was invented by the diet and fitness industry to generate income and use shame as a motivator. Don't fall for it this year! I say: Goals! Schmoals! If you are working to be your best self already (like most of us are) there is absolutely no need to pile on more expectations at this time. You will continue to be your best self in 2018 too. I promise!
One thing I do like about this time of year is the encouragement to reflect on the previous year. My 2017 was a challenging one and I'm amazed when I think about all that happened. I started it out with a bang on January 9th, when I tripped and fell over my son on our basement stairs and broke my pinky finger. I initially thought- hey, a pinky finger isn't so bad! Turns out I was wrong... our pinky fingers are the base of all our grip strength. I now affectionately refer to my left pinky as my "lightning" finger... and it's become a new part of me. Just another funny part to learn to take care of and work on regularly!
I had further physical problems in March when my dreaded sciatica returned after a 10 year absence. I was in pretty much constant pain until late September. There's several things about this experience that I want to remember going forward. Here they are:
1) No matter how much you take care of your body, sometimes it does things you don't understand or expect and you just have to go with the flow. It's hard not to be angry about it! But it is just a fact of life.
2) Spending money on regular physical maintenence (ie. osteopath or fascial stretch therapy appointments) is but a drop in the ocean compared to trying to recover from an acute injury. I used to hold off on appointments and think, hey, it's not so bad, I don't need to go this month. Now I can see how utterly important it is and am more than willing to move money around in my budget to make it a priority!
3) I hate painkillers. Hate them. TENS, heat, movement and natural treatments are definitely the way for me. Unfortunately OHIP is not on board. This is a national crisis in my opinion. I'm 38 years old, and my doctor was willing to give me any pain pills I wanted and had nothing else to offer. He actually said: "Just keep coming back when they stop working and I'll up the dose." How many millions of people out there are on pills their whole lives because this is all the standard and free medical service has to offer us? It's truly horrific and I wish there was something that could be done about it.
4) Moving is key to relieving pain. Truly it is. My husband took my son to his parents for a few days to let me rest and have a break. (Bless him!) However by the time he returned I was crying from the pain and could barely move. All because I spent two days "resting" instead of leading my normal, active life. Lesson learned.
5) Moderate and regular exercise is way better than occasional hard core workouts. I am continuing to gently exercise more often (no more than 30 mins of walking, swimming, or- you guessed it, pilates) and I am feeling a huge increase in my energy levels. It's totally the way forward. I knew this already but this experience hammered the lesson home!
6) Living without pain is a blessing. A BLESSING. And I intend to enjoy every moment of my pain free life.
On the emotional side of life, in May my son was eventually diagnosed with ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder). This has been a huge ongoing rollercoaster of emotional stress for me and my family. I read book after book about it and returned to counselling for the third time in my life. I have managed to adjust my parenting style and expectations (at least to some degree anyway) and life is a whole lot better at home for it. This entire experience was way more draining than any of the physical pain I experienced. It brought about a new awareness of taking care of myself emotionally and mentally as well as physically. I began a regular meditation practice and I gotta say, it was a crazy huge life changer for me. I'm planning to keep going with it for the rest of my life. I am also continuing to learn alongside my son how to regulate emotions and stay calm in the face of stress. Such important skills but until there's a crisis, we don't usually learn about it or get help.
Looking back I can see that I was incredibly persistent in 2017 by carrying on with life through it all. I was open to new ideas and willing to change. I felt thankful for all the little things in life and incredibly grateful for my family and their support. Those things are way more important than setting goals like : "Lose 20 lbs" or "Get beach body ready by June" or whatever utter nonsense is being peddled out there on social media right now. In fact, I don't see any need to set goals- I'm pretty awesome just the way I am. I hope you will join me this year in saying the same: "I'm pretty awesome already. Goals! Schmoals!"
Happy New Year!!! <3
Diane Archer, Pilates Instructor from the UK now living back in Canada. Blog of tips, thoughts, home challenges.