I’ll be honest, as I sit down to write this, I’m feeling somewhat guilty. I’ve let my habits lapse somewhat in the last two months. Not in terms of health and fitness necessarily but in terms of professional and personal development. I’ve hardly picked up a book, have done little in the way of marketing and this is my first blog since February. In my own eyes, I’m not living upto the standards I set for myself.
Does this sound familiar? How often do we feel that we are letting ourselves and/or others down? The guilt, the frustration of repeating that same mantra of ‘I must do better’. That all-or-nothing thinking that unless you’re succeeding 100% in your goals then you’re failing, as if there were no vast grey area in between.
Of course, looked at objectively, this is nonsense. If you struggle with time management and you’ve gone from being late for work twice a week to twice a month then that’s improvement. If you’re trying to improve your diet and you’ve gone from eating ice cream three times a week to once a week then that’s improvement. Just because it’s not the 100% clean sweep that you may have been aiming for doesn’t mean you’re not improving your habits. I emphasise this point to coaching and personal training clients alike: don’t judge yourself by harsher standards than you would judge anyone else.
Yet, somehow it’s different when it’s you isn’t it? It’s almost arrogant in some respects – that ‘those standards are fine for everyone else but it’s different for me’. Sounds daft when you say it out loud yet in reality an awful lot of us, myself included, hold ourselves to higher standards than we would dream of holding others to. None of us are immune to the slings and arrows as it were and all of us at times have to adjust our expectations. When I get a sense of perspective, it’s perfectly obvious why my habits have slipped a little: there’s been an adjustment in my wife’s working hours and around a month ago I was also involved in an albeit minor car crash that wrote my car off. Both of these factors have meant that I’ve simply had far less downtime and time that I would have spent on professional development has been swallowed up dealing with solicitors, insurance companies, car hire companies and numerous other bodies in the aftermath of the accident. In other words: it was completely unreasonable of me to expect myself to do the same level of work with far less available time.
As I reflect and write this, I do feel a little better so I would encourage you to do the same. There is nothing wrong with expecting high standards from yourself if you have ambitious goals or are attempting any kind of lifestyle change. It’s useful and positive to say ‘I’m going to get up 10 minutes earlier’ if you want to improve time management. But it may not prevent you being late if your kids have a meltdown as you try to leave the house! Certain things you can control, others you can’t. Improving any kind of habit will involve backward steps and disappointments, this is unfortunately universal in my experience. I’ve yet to meet the person who set out on a path to change and travelled in a smooth straight line until they got there. Everyone hits bumps and setbacks, and occasionally a builder will drive into the side of your car for no good reason! Once something is done and you have no power to alter it, there’s little point in berating yourself or saying it shouldn’t have happened. Just look forward, if there’s anything you can learn from it then fantastic – that’s another step forward after all. If it was one of life’s curveballs then accept that you simply cannot be at your best if you’re ultimately having huge chunks of your time and energy taken out of you.
Anyway, that’s it for now. No great detail and a little on the short side…but I’m not going to beat myself up over it.