I have a confession to make: I have a habit of burning out. It’s not always super noticeable because I’ve known this about myself long enough that I’m really good at front-loading work and tasks. I front load my schedule when I have lines to learn or deadlines to make. I front load my week whenever possible because I know there’s a good chance that by the end of it I’ll be exhausted or one of the kids will be sick or not sleeping well, etc…. but recently I’ve started wondering if all this early, extreme pushing in the beginning of things is actually part of a vicious cycle that leads to my burn outs. So while I still front load when planning my weeks, I’m trying to lighten that load just a little, especially in light of my word of the year being Endure. The opposite of burning out. I don’t just want to start well, I want to finish well.
I’ve realized this habit as I look at the patterns in my Powersheets. Many of my monthly goals get accomplished early in the month or they don’t get accomplished at all. In general, my daily goals happen much more during the beginning of the week and taper off as the week goes on. I’m hoping to change that pattern this year. Yet even with my knowledge of this habit of, perhaps, “overenthusiastic” beginnings, I can’t help but be excited about how the year has started and the progress I’ve made in these few weeks with my goal of getting stronger. Aside from the fact that I’ve managed to push past “National Quiters Day” (a term that showed up in a few news stories based on date from the athletic social network Strata that says the second Friday in January is when many quit their fitness goals-kind of harsh but definitely packs a punch, right?),I’m not worried that these changes are going to sputter out because I’ve realized this is the next step in the bigger picture, the progress I’ve made over the past three months or even six months, back when I first started attending yoga classes again.
So, one of the things that I don’t share on the blog about my Powersheets is the prep work. There are about 60 pages asking some challenging questions and demanding some real honesty if you want to uncover the things that matter most and the things that may be holding you back, and then there are the action plans for your goals and what kind of baby steps you can start with to achieve them. I’m still going to keep most of the prep work to myself as I find it a deeply personal exercize, but I decided to share with you some of the pieces of my action plan for my 2018 goal of GET STRONGER (my subtitle for this goal is: BUILD ENDURANCE).
All of the action plan pages in the Powersheets start with you listing your goal and then immediately asks you to write out WHY this is your goal, because if you don’t have a good why then odds are good you will stop caring about your goal a few weeks in. Here’s what I wrote as my “WHY”s for this goal:
*Because I want to set a good example for my kids
*Because I want to surprise myself
*Because my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit
*Because my mental health and physical health are tied together (I think I mentioned when explaining this goal that I want to get mentally and emotionally stronger this year as well because last year was ROUGH on my mental health)
*Because I want to empower others to do the same
*Because I want to break stereotypes that women are weak
*Because I believe it will give me more energy
I was surprised with how many WHYs I had and it really helped me combat the worry that this was a “selfish” or “superficial” goal which is something that definitely comes up in my head when I’m dealing with goals about self improvement.
The action plan then asks several questions about the positive effects and feelings that will come from working on this goal (for me the more energy idea came up again and again as well as feeling ready to face more challenges), how I will know I accomplished this goal (this is why my January tending list included coming up with some sort of fit-test or baseline measurement), and then sections for encouraging words, celebration ideas for once I hit this goal, and resources I could turn to to help me accomplish this goal. The next page has a prompt that says “starting steps” and asks you to list three basic things that could help with this goal. And what I want to talk about the rest of this blog post is the first step I listed in my action plan- “Keep up yoga and attend more challenging classes- do classes that scare me.”
I’ve definitely done that starting step this month. I took a New Year’s Day flow with a bunch of yogis I felt were far more advanced the me. I attended my first “Power Yoga” class- the very name intimidated me the last six months. I was pleasantly surprised to find that while it was CHALLENGING and much more sweaty, it wasn’t the series of impossible positions I’d imagined it to be. I got back to Yoga Wall/hanging yoga classes which I’d been avoiding since having mydaughter not only because this is a challenging class, but also because when you are hanging upside down there is nowhere for that “mommy tummy” to hide- gravity is sucking it down toward your face. And truth be told, when I went to a totally full wall class last week and the teacher asked if she could take a picture of the class and share it part of me wanted to be the one dissenting voice that said, “OH PLEASE DON’T!” But instead I made myself focus on how I couldn’t have been ready to even take this class back when I started coming back to yoga. I focused on the strength I’d built to do some of the poses that warmed us up before the release of just hanging and enjoying. I felt gratitude that my body had pushed through the group hand in hand ab work of crunches upside down at the wall and that I hadn’t pulled my neighbor down- something I’m pretty sure would have been the case even month or two ago.
A few months ago, it was hard for me to do a chaturanga without shaking and fighting to have correct form, back in August when I started attending Gentle Flow classes I wanted to cry if we did more than two chair poses, and I wanted to just sit down and cry after every bar class I took. Now I actually feel GOOD and ENERGIZED after class. I’m starting to work on more challenging poses. I don’t want to spend half the class in child’s pose.
Most importantly, this goal doesn’t feel like a punishment. I think that’s the reason I’m focusing on strength instead of a certain numerical end goal or a specific skill. I’m interested in progress that will transcend this calendar year. I’m excited to see how far I’ll have come by the time I hit the one year mark of returning to my yoga practice. I encourage any of you out there who are nervous about one of your goals to think about your WHY and to get started, embracing whatever progress you can make but not feeling like you have to go all or nothing right out of the gate. Little by little work adds up. And a year from now you may realize you’ve accomplished something that seemed impossible when you started. I’d love to help cheer you on!