The Best You Ever in 2020Jan 02, 2020
Here we stand. It’s not just a New Year…it’s a whole New Decade. The canvas of our lives isn’t completely empty. After all, we’ve put some serious mileage on ourselves in the years leading up to this point. But no matter what point you’re at in your life’s journey, there’s always time to make adjustments and begin again.
But we didn’t want to just do the same-old-same-old when it comes to “New Year’s Resolutions!” That’s why we gathered a sort of Motivational A-Team to help us help you as you ponder what you’d like to do with the canvas of your life. The idea is just to give you a few tools that will help you step beyond the standard resolutions in a variety of areas of interest.
Jan Astani’s primary gig is Marketing Director for Citywide Mortgage, but her long history of motivational speaking and blogging puts her in a great position to advise all of us at that starting line.
“I don’t know who to attribute this to because I found it on Facebook,” said Astani, “But I love this quote that says: Whatever you’re not choosing, you ARE choosing.”
Astani says if you’re already perfect, then choosing to make no changes would be the right thing to do. But obviously, none of us are perfect.
“The great thing about resolutions is that it recognizes that I’m not perfect,” said Astani, “And then taking that first simple step to address the area we want to work on.”
One of the first places people turn to when contemplating New Year’s resolutions is the area of personal fitness. We visited with Tim, Brent, and Jamie Gray, who are all Crossfit Level 1 trainers at Crossfit 134. The trio is unanimous about avoiding long-term fads or gym memberships that you end up dropping out and not using.”
“What’s hot right now is not necessarily the thing that’s going to help you achieve your goals in the long-run,” said Jamie. “So be careful about getting stuck in a contract just because you see a lot of your friends doing it.”
“The smart thing to do is to focus on something that maybe you’re already interested in,” said Tim. “If you’ve enjoyed riding bikes, then maybe you can start off riding bikes once or twice a week and make it a habit.”
Brent points out that if you’re starting from a sedentary lifestyle, you should be very careful about trying to do too much, too soon.
“Trying to work out five days a week when you’re going from nothing is really a recipe for a failed resolution,” said Brent. “Like Tim said, find something simple that you can do and start slowly because the goal is to still be doing this when 2021 rolls around.”
Brent adds that community is one of the most overlooked aspects of tackling a New Year workout goal.
“Having a good group of people you can work out with makes it so much more fun and keeps you accountable,” said Brent.
“That’s one of the things that makes Crossfit so successful for so many people,” said Jamie. “You might go to a big gym and work out on your own, but most people work so much better when they’re paired up with someone or in a group that’s reaching for the same goals.”
Tim says that as a Crossfit coach, he’s excited about recommending the group workouts that are the norm at Crossfit 134. But he also says you should look for community no matter what exercise you choose.
“Get a walking partner or a biking partner,” said Tim. “It’s so much better when you have someone to laugh and have fun with as you workout. That’s one of the things I love so much about Crossfit is the people that have become friends.”
Tim, Brent, and Jamie say there are so many more recommendations they could make about fitness resolutions that it would be easy to get lost in them. They agree that the most successful resolutions boil down to a couple of key ingredients.
“I think the more fun it is and the more fun you have with the people you work out with, the more likely you’re going to stick with it,” said Tim.
Jamie said, “Fun and then making it a priority that fits where you’re at physically. If you’re just getting started, a few days a week where you’re committed to a partner or a group. If you’re more advanced, more often but maybe with a higher level of accountability.”
Of course, all three coaches would be delighted for folks to check out Crossfit at their box.
“We’re like a lot of the Crossfit boxes in that we have groups that will work for any level of fitness,” said Tim, “And we’re happy to work with folks on a month-to-month payment basis to they don’t have to get locked into a year-long contract.”
Astani says that physical fitness goals can be good examples of setting SMART goals, goals that are:
Specific (simple, sensible, significant)
Measurable (meaningful, motivating)
Achievable (agreed, attainable)
Relevant (reasonable, realistic)
Timely (time-base, time-sensitive)
“For example, you wouldn’t want to set a general goal of, ‘I want 2020 to be the year I get in the best shape I’ve ever been in,’” said Astani. “Instead, you might set a goal of exercising 30 minutes every day. It’s specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely.”
Those principles also apply when it comes to setting financial goals. We talked with Mark Rose, Financial Advisor from Retirement Income Strategies, LLC, about tackling New Year’s personal finance resolutions. Mark pointed out that January might actually be the best time to start planning for next Christmas.
“One of the most common mistakes people make is overspending during the Holidays,” said Rose. “Create a budget and live on less than you make. It is not always fun, but there is a lot of emotional freedom knowing that you can afford it when the credit card bill arrives in January.”
If you’ve already been hit with credit card sticker shock this month, Rose says there’s still plenty you can do to recover and prepare for the year (and decade) ahead.
“The trendy thing for so many people is to jump in and buy a gym membership,” said Rose. “While getting fit is important, I would recommend evaluating how often you’ll use the gym before you commit to a membership.”
No matter where you are in life, Mark says right now is the perfect time to take a couple of small steps toward financial health.
“It’s just like running a marathon,” said Rose. “You’re not going to roll out of bed and run 26.2 miles. You’ll want to create small financial goals that add up to big goals over time.”
At the top of the list, Rose recommends paying off debt. Then you can begin saving for retirement and education for your children. Rose also says it’s smart to track your progress so that you can see how you’re doing on things like paying off credit card debt. One other financial essential you’ll want to tackle: build an emergency fund.
“I encourage my clients to have three to six months of expenses in their emergency fund,” said Mark. “But if you don’t have one yet, start with a goal to have a least one month of expenses set aside.
Astani says that when you tackle things like financial and business goals,
Rob Garibay, a certified personal business coach and owner of Clarity Pro, says everyone needs to realize that when it comes to New Year’s resolution, most people who make them fail. The key to overcoming that failure, says Garibay, begins with habits.
“Small habits and little choices define how we view ourselves,” said Garibay, “Which creates our identity. We are who we are because of the compound effect (8th wonder of the world) of the millions of tiny choices we have made in our life to this point. If we truly want to improve, we must understand that good habits are challenging to acquire and easy to lose, while bad habits are easy to acquire and challenging to lose.”
Garibay suggests a great place to start is to develop a picture of our desired “self.” Then you can make time work for you (compound effect) rather than against you. The four steps to developing self-improvement habits that make time work for you are:
“In noticing, find or draw (if you’re good at art) an image that will remind you of the self you desire to be,” said Garibay. “Put it where you can see it every day and then put something representing the good habit you want to acquire where you see it every day.”
For example, the simple act of driving past the gym every day or adding it to a calendar can help increase the chances of getting in shape.
“We must trick our mind into ‘wanting’ to do the work necessary to acquire the good habit,” said Garibay. “Associate with people who have the habits you desire and represent the image you wish to become. Design our environment to make our good habits easier and bad habits harder. Changing our environment is a large step toward changing our self-image to what we desire.”
“It’s the starting that is difficult,” said Garibay. “Realize that any outcome we wish to achieve is just a point along a spectrum of repetitions.”
But you have to start somewhere to create those repetitions. If you want to become an accomplished writer with a lot of followers, realize that each article you publish or post moves you closer to your goal. Get started and then focus on the finish line.
“There are only two reasons we repeat behaviors,” said Garibay. “We like doing them, or we like the reward. The problem is that good habits have an immediate cost and a delayed compounding reward, while bad habits have an immediate reward and a delayed compounding cost.”
Garibay says the repetition of good habits not only changes our results, but it also changes our identity.
“Every action we take is a vote for the type of person we want to become,” said Garibay.
For Astani, failure isn’t really a bad thing when it comes to working toward the person you want to become.
“I don’t think you can call if a failure if you’re doing something to try and improve yourself,” said Astani. “The critical thing is not that we fail. It’s how we respond to that failure.”
Astani says it’s important to remember that if your goal is to do something seven days this week and you only did it five, instead of considering that a failure focus on the fact that you hit the goal five times. Even more encouraging is the fact that you didn’t even hit the target five times last year, so you’re way ahead of where you were 12 months ago.
“Every day, you have a chance to start anew,” said Astani. “One thing that helps me have a positive attitude about each new day is that I choose a ‘word of the year.’ My word for 2020 is going to be ‘reduce,’ as in ‘I’m going to reduce clutter and junk.”
Some other examples of a word to choose are kindness, grace, hustle, health, knowledge, and faith.
When it comes to faith, there’s a vast body of scientific evidence that points to spiritual health as the foundation for every other area of positive growth in our lives. Tommy Haynes, pastor at Central Church of Christ in Moore, says he advises people looking to tackle a spiritual resolution to consider three-basic steps.
“First of all, identify the spiritual goal that you want to reach,” said Haynes, “Once you’ve done that, come up with a plan of work that will help you reach that goal. And the final component is to make sure that you’re emotionally invested in the goal.”
According to Haynes, that last facet of a resolution, emotional investment, is all about being honest with yourself and with those around you.
“It has to be genuine, or it’s not going to stick,” said Haynes, “If you’re not genuine, the most people can see right through that, and they’ll look at you as a fake. Furthermore, you’ll recognize that you’re less than honest about your spiritual pursuits.”
Haynes says that anyone looking to tackle spiritual goals should let go of any preconceived notions about faith and begin with the Bible. Haynes says a quick Google search will reveal plenty of reading plans for anyone at any point in life.
“Don’t approach it with prejudices,” said Haynes. “I know that’s hard to do for a lot of folks, but even if you don’t believe the Bible, you’re going to find so much in it that can enrich your life.”
Haynes suggests not just reading the Bible, but also taking notes on what you read.
“Don’t just swallow what’s being preached at you from a pulpit,” said Haynes, “Sit down and think through what it says to you personally.”
And in this day and age, where there’s so much anger and division over so many issues, Haynes believes that spending time exploring and expanding your faith can only help anyone be more peaceful and loving.
“I think about Jesus and the Beatitudes and how they call me to have a better attitude toward others,” said Haynes. “And in that same sermon, you have the Golden Rule, treating others the way you want to be treated. I think that kind of attitude is important and that we can carry it into relationships with people who aren’t like us and who have different opinions than we do. I think if we all did this, we might be able to stop overreacting to every little thing that comes up.”