Happy, Happy New Year to all of you!
My annual New Year’s email is one of my favorite to write and send you. It’s a bit lengthy – so bare with me if you would; my hope is that it might inspire you to look at the New Year with a fresh perspective.
I’m here in chilly Boston visiting my husband who’s been here for the last 6 months for a great work opportunity. Last night, went to Boston Common and watched the amazing fireworks…at 7pm of course…staying out past about 9pm isn’t what it used to be!
There’s something about fireworks…they always make me emotional.
I can’t even blame the pregnancy hormones (we’re blessed to be welcoming a little girl in mid-February!)…I cry. Every. Single. Time. July 4th, Labor Day, New Year’s, no-holiday-fireworks…I always tear-up.
But last night was a different kind of emotion that I experienced, and over the course of the 20-minute spectacular, I began to realize why.
For the last several years, instead of making a resolution or even a “goal” for the New Year…I make a personal promise. A simple promise that I can apply to all aspects of my life that I know will have an impact on how I live.
The promise is usually a simple phrase or just a word that becomes a central reminder in everything I do…sort of a mantra, you could say.
Some of my past personal promises have included:
– Practice self-discipline
– Pull the trigger (I was putting off important decisions rather than just listening to my gut)
– Follow-through and finish
– Be present and mindful
The great thing about making these personal promises is that because I practice them almost daily, year-round, it just becomes part of how I operate beyond the 365 days. Unlike making a resolution to lose weight, make X amount of money, accomplish X, etc., these personal promises become the foundation for me to simply be better, practice healthier habits (mind and body) and “results” then follow.
For the last few weeks, I’ve been wracking my brain about what my 2017 personal promise would be and what I would write to you. Who would figure that it would come to me during a New Year’s Eve fireworks show.
When the show first began, the way the boom of the fireworks sounded-off of Boston’s high-rises was heart-shaking. The sound and closeness of the fireworks actually made me feel incredibly uncomfortable; that “I’m-scared-something-could-go-wrong” kind of uncomfortable…even as beautiful as it was to watch.
Then I looked down at my 4-year old son, EJ and saw his eyes looking up, absolutely fearless, in amazement. And he looked up at me said, “This is the best fireworks show I ever had! Those BOOMS are so cool!”
It hit me.
When did I lose that craving for exhilaration of doing something that is a little scary? Knowing that even though it I may feel scared, the reward is worth it.
Amid the booms and oohs-and-awes…I realized that my typical reaction to discomfort is to shy away from it and just play it safe. While I’ve made some pretty big risks in my life, I find that as I get older, I want to take less risk and play it safe more often.
But safe is when we get complacent.
Safe is when we get tired and bored.
Safe is when we start running on the hamster wheel of life…wake-up, work, cook, do the family-thing, sleep…rinse and repeat.
Safe is when we forget to take care of ourselves physically; when we forget to do those things that invigorate us and give us joy, to flirt with our husbands or do something silly.
I don’t want to play it safe this year.
It’s a big year for me – this month marks the 10th anniversary of when I started Body Project. It was a huge risk when I left my “safe” cushy, corporate job and started with $624 in a savings account and to start my own business. I want that hustle and thrill again in my life; it’s when I felt like I was making the greatest impact.
Our family also has some big decisions this year, of course the unpredictable, and not to mention the addition of a little girl in about 6 weeks (or whenever she decides!). I want my children to see that their mom is fearless – because she believes in herself, believes in her value and self-worth and has conviction that anything is possible.
I never want that feeling that I’ve only told my children that anything is possible…I want to show them that anything is possible.
So I came to my personal promise for 2017: Ask and risk.
I don’t ask enough for what I want or need (or simply just ask for help), usually out of fear of rejection or appearing weak. This is going to change this year. I’m going to ASK – and challenge myself to ask regularly. Maybe just for the sake of asking 🙂
I’m going to take risks. I’m going to say “no” more often to things that don’t serve or fulfill me and I’m going to say “yes” to things that give me purpose, or what might ordinarily scare the $&!# out of me.
I want to have that feeling EJ had last night…”This will be the best year I ever had! Those BOOMS are so cool!”
What scares me…will be what drives me…and I’m pretty confident that by doing more of what scares me, I’ll be able to fulfill my purpose of empowering women and those I care most about to do the same for themselves.
From my experience of working with hundreds of women who have set goals to lose “X number of pounds,” I’ve realized that the inability to succeed (long-term) at a core actually has very little to do with what they eat or how much or little they exercise.
Here’s what I’ve found works far longer than setting a weight loss goal:
– It’s about setting a personal promise with yourself (doesn’t that sound far more exciting than a goal or resolution?!).
– It’s about setting non-negotiable habits and actions that will get you to the place you envision yourself.
– It’s about holding yourself accountable (either to yourself, or to someone else, if you need it…and most of us do…)
I’ve included the “teaser” list below if you need some ideas of personal promises you can make to yourself.
12 ideas for your 2017 personal promise
1. Practice self-discipline
2. Follow-through & finish
3. Seek balance in my energy…not just my time and obligations
4. Focus on what I can start, not what I need to stop
5. Stop “should’ing” on myself (if you say this out loud, you’ll get a giggle…!)
6. Let everything I do be an example (to my kids, family, co-workers, community, etc.)
7. Give myself permission…
8. Talk to myself the way I would talk to my daughter, my sister, my best friend
9. Start seeking what serves me, limiting what doesn’t
10. Be present and practice mindfulness
11. Stop worrying about getting old and focus on staying young
12. Focus on what I’ve successfully done, not on all I didn’t do
While many of these may not be “weight loss” or “fitness” focused, I’ve seen for myself first-hand, personally and particularly with the women I’ve worked with over the last 10 years, that when you shift your focus from the number on the scale to a mindset that can have meaningful change in your life…you will be surprised how significant the physical change can be.
Proving that it’s not simply about the food and the exercise and the scale…
Cheers to making 2017 great…and more importantly, thank you for being part of my 2016!
Committed to your success this year and beyond!