The first month of the year is almost over and where do you find yourself now? Did you, as many do, resolve to make changes for 2014? Did you, as many do, fail to keep them? Apparently only 8% of New Year’s resolutions are actually successful! I find this fascinating; so many of the people I work with – patients and clients – are exceptionally self-controlled. They are strong-willed and perfectionistic (the subject of my last blog ‘Life’s not Perfect!’) and yet they fail miserably in their attempts to exercise more, lose weight, restore work/life balance. But why?
As 2014 dawned I have been meditating and reflecting on this profound word ‘Why?’ Years ago I dropped out of medical school because as students we weren’t supposed to use the question ‘Why?’ We were expected to take everything at face value. Accept what we were told. Even then, all those years ago, this made me deeply uncomfortable.
‘Why?’ is such an important question. The Greek philosopher Socrates was put to death for asking ‘Why’ too many times! Thankfully we now live in an era where we have freedom to question but many of us are afraid to plunge the depths and ask our ‘why?’ I think this is a shame because the answers to such an inquiry can often lead us to the core of whether we need to change something in our lives and, more importantly, the reason to make a change imperative in our lives.
Allow me to illustrate my point…
I recently worked with Alison a 35 yr old accountant who was close to burnout. A single mum with two young children aged 11 and 13rs, working long hours and filled with guilt that she’s not doing the best (her words) at work or with her children. She was exhausted and emotional when we met and had been experiencing a host of worrying medical symptoms for too long. We agreed that the bigger question was why she drove herself so hard but she had neither energy nor will to go there. We then looked at the small ways in which she might give herself the energy to at least meet her day’s demands. Her diet wasn’t poor – just non-existent (although she was gaining weight). She hardly ate anything all day and lived on endless cups of tea. I broached the subject of breakfast and, as expected, was met with a storm of protests and excuses but I kept chipping away. How could I help her to see that she was worthy of nourishment in every sense of the word? The turning point in our session came when, in floods of tears, she realised that if she could go through the ‘pain’ of making herself eat breakfast she might just have the energy to get through the day and, most importantly, might even have some energy for her children when she got home. She’d found one of her most important ‘WHY’s’.
A month later and she’s still going strong with breakfast as well as eating healthy snacks during the day, cutting back on the tea and leaving work earlier most days. When I last saw her she was looking energised, colour in her face and excited by the fact that she’d ‘reclaimed her life’.
I come across stories like this all the time in my work and I constantly work on my ‘Why’s?’ too. So if there’s something different that you want for yourself in 2014 – more energy, better health, more love in your relationships (who wouldn’t want that?) – before you jump into making changes, I invite you to spend some time finding your ‘Why’. Then connect these changes with whatever it is that truly has meaning for you. Make those changes imperative and non-negotiable.
I hope you have fun finding your ‘Why?’ and I wish you a happy and meaningful 2014.