If you’re familiar with the stories of Christendom, you probably know the one about St. Peter walking on water. As a kid I heard the story many times and always with the same lesson: Peter was a failure because he grew afraid of the wind and waves.
I knew I’d be very uncomfortable about walking on a constantly heaving wet floor, let alone actual water. But that never came up. None of the pastors I heard recount the story every praised Peter for having the nerve to get out of the boat to start with. They just warbled on and on about how everybody needed to be less like Peter and have more faith.
Therein lies the reason for the dredging of my childhood and slapping a gasping memory on a page before you.
Peter continues to be degraded for failing to take more than a few steps across a churning sea but I’ve yet to hear somebody mock the dudes who stayed in the boat. Many of the good folks around would have you believe that life is all either hot or cold. Success or failure. Laudable bravery or deplorable cowardice.
Let’s take a break from that mindset and think about the times you’ve gotten out of a boat in your life. Don’t focus on how you didn’t make it more than a few steps away from the boat before you needed to be rescued. Don’t focus on your failure to walk across the ocean. Think instead of all the steps you DID take. Think about how you believed in something enough to do what others said you couldn’t.
You got out of the boat. That’s amazing. You can do it again, too. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Show kindness without an end game — Few are capable of such a thing. When presented with an opportunity to be kind, take it if you’ve got the resources. You’re out of the boat.
Complete a cost-free step to achieving a dream — Too often we let money get in the way of progress. Pick a task or group of tasks you need to make a dream happen and complete them. You’re out of the boat.
Take a worldwide problem and solve it for somebody in your neighborhood — Changing the world is an impossible task but you can make a difference on your doorstep. In changing the world of another, you’ve changed the world for us all. That’s definitely a getting-out-of-the-boat sort of approach.
What do you think? Should we continue celebrating failure like the gurus tell us to or should we focus on those first successful steps and figure out how to repeat them, learn from them, and add to them?
Are you keen to reinvent yourself this year? Or at least use the new year as a long overdue excuse to get rid of bad habits or pick up new ones?
Yes, it’s that time of year again. The time of year when we feel as if we have to turn over a new leaf. The time when we misguidedly imagine that the arrival of a new year will magically provide the catalyst, motivation and persistence we need to reinvent ourselves.
Traditionally, New Year’s Day is styled as the ideal time to kick start a new phase in your life and the time when you must make your all important new year’s resolution. Unfortunately, the beginning of the year is also one of the worst times to make a major change in your habits because it’s often a relatively stressful time, right in the middle of the party and vacation season.
Don’t set yourself up for failure this year by vowing to make huge changes that will be hard to keep. Instead follow these seven steps for successfully making a new year’s resolution you can stick to for good.
1. Just pick one thing
If you want to change your life or your lifestyle don’t try to change the whole thing at once. It won’t work. Instead pick one area of your life to change to begin with.
Make it something concrete so you know exactly what change you’re planning to make. If you’re successful with the first change you can go ahead and make another change after a month or so. By making small changes one after the other, you still have the chance to be a whole new you at the end of the year and it’s a much more realistic way of doing it.
Don’t pick a New Year’s resolution that’s bound to fail either, like running a marathon if you’re 40lbs overweight and get out of breath walking upstairs. If that’s the case resolve to walk every day. When you’ve got that habit down pat you can graduate to running in short bursts, constant running by March or April and a marathon at the end of the year. What’s the one habit you most want to change?
2. Plan ahead
To ensure success you need to research the change you’re making and plan ahead so you have the resources available when you need them. Here are a few things you should do to prepare and get all the systems in place ready to make your change.
Read up on it – Go to the library and get books on the subject. Whether it’s quitting smoking, taking up running or yoga or becoming vegan there are books to help you prepare for it. Or use the Internet. If you do enough research you should even be looking forward to making the change.
Plan for success – Get everything ready so things will run smoothly. If you’re taking up running make sure you have the trainers, clothes, hat, glasses, ipod loaded with energetic sounds at the ready. Then there can be no excuses.
3. Anticipate problems
There will be problems so make a list of what they’ll be. If you think about it, you’ll be able to anticipate problems at certain times of the day, with specific people or in special situations. Once you’ve identified the times that will probably be hard work out ways to cope with them when they inevitably crop up.
You don’t have to make these changes on New Year’s Day. That’s the conventional wisdom, but if you truly want to make changes then pick a day when you know you’ll be well-rested, enthusiastic and surrounded by positive people. I’ll be waiting until my kids go back to school in February.
Sometimes picking a date doesn’t work. It’s better to wait until your whole mind and body are fully ready to take on the challenge. You’ll know when it is when the time comes.
5. Go for it
On the big day go for it 100%. Make a commitment and write it down on a card. You just need one short phrase you can carry in your wallet. Or keep it in your car, by your bed and on your bathroom mirror too for an extra dose of positive reinforcement.
Your commitment card will say something like:
I enjoy a clean, smoke-free life.
I stay calm and in control even under times of stress.
I’m committed to learning how to run my own business.
I meditate daily.
6. Accept failure
If you do fail and sneak a cigarette, miss a walk or shout at the kids one morning don’t hate yourself for it. Make a note of the triggers that caused this set back and vow to learn a lesson from them.
If you know that alcohol makes you crave cigarettes and oversleep the next day cut back on it. If you know the morning rush before school makes you shout then get up earlier or prepare things the night before to make it easier on you.
Perseverance is the key to success. Try again, keep trying and you will succeed.
7. Plan rewards
Small rewards are great encouragement to keep you going during the hardest first days. After that you can probably reward yourself once a week with a magazine, a long-distance call to a supportive friend, a siesta, a trip to the movies or whatever makes you tick.
Later you can change the rewards to monthly and then at the end of the year you can pick an anniversary reward. Something that you’ll look forward to. You deserve it and you’ll have earned it.
Whatever your plans and goals are for this year, I’d do wish you luck with them but remember, it’s your life and you make your own luck.
Decide what you want to do this year, plan how to get it and go for it. I’ll definitely be cheering you on.
Are you planning to make a New Year’s resolution? What is it and is it something you’ve tried to do before or something new?