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Episode 49: Permission To Scale Back

Welcome, welcome to The Work Of Becoming podcast! Today, I want to give you a little bit of a permission slip. So, it is January ninth. We are all nine days into our new year’s resolutions, our goals for the year, and I want to make sure that you know that if you need to, you can change your goal.

So, story time. In 2020, I set this goal that I was going to go for a run four days per week. I was a grad student at the time, and I was working a lot, and I really wanted to train for a race, and so, I thought to myself, “Oh, four times a week. That’s good. That’s what I need to be doing,” and I got through the first (maybe second) week of January that year, and already I was struggling with it. I was kind of white knuckling my way through it in the first two weeks of the year and, if I’m being honest with myself, I was convincing myself, “I can do hard things! This is so empowering for me to be doing this even though it’s really hard for me, even though I have all sorts of other responsibilities, even though I’m having to navigate with myself, mentally, every single freaking time I do this.” I was making up all of these reasons why I didn’t need to change the goal and it was okay, and I was just gonna get tougher. I was just gonna get more disciplined, right? Because we all fall into that, me included.

But I want to point that example out because I continued to tell myself that I needed to run four times a week for weeks and weeks and weeks and weeks, and as the weeks went by, and I did not run four times a week over and over and over again, the guilt started to pile up and pile up and pile up and pile up until, by February, I was convincing myself that I needed an entirely new goal or that I was gonna do a CrossFit competition instead. I was telling myself all of these things, and I was actually not running at all because I was eyeball deep in guilt about the four times per week that I was not doing.

And I get people all the time who tell me, “Karin, I have a problem with follow through. I’m here in coaching because I have a problem with follow through. I just can’t do it. I just can’t hold myself accountable.” And to you, my friend, my question is this: are you struggling with self-accountability or are you holding yourself to a goal that was maybe wildly unrealistic and not letting yourself adjust it to your actual life?

So, if I could go back and I could talk to my 2020 self, I would remind her on that second week of January that since I was already having so much trouble with four times per week, I should maybe instead just focus on getting it done twice per week or maybe just running as frequently as possible. I would have gone back, and I would have scaled down the goal because guess what? Then, I probably would have been able to run twice a week, and I would have run twice per week for 12 weeks, and that would have been 24 runs in the span of 3 months. Whereas, instead, I did four the first week, four the second week of January, I think I did three the third week, and then after that pretty much petered out because I could sense that I couldn’t get in those four runs. So, I did a total of 11 rather than 24 runs over the course of those 3 months because my goal was unrealistic. My goal was a punishment disguised as something empowering.

And so, as you are going through the month of January, before you dive into the guilt shitstorm of, “I just can’t do it. I’m just not blank enough,” I want you to ask yourself, “Was this goal realistic? Has something changed?” Or even if it was realistic, maybe it’s not realistic anymore or maybe you want it to be more realistic or more compassionate. Can you scale back so that it’s easier to do, so that you can have fun doing it, so that you cultivate a relationship with this brand new goal that is not based in hate and guilt and negative feelings about yourself. If you have a goal or if you have a habit or a target for your habit, and it’s easy enough to do that you don’t have to stress about it, you’re fostering a positive relationship with that goal rather than a relationship that is centered around the fact that you can’t do it and you feel guilty about it.

That is what I’ve got for you today. However, I do want to give you a gentle nudge that if you are loving this podcast, you should check out my YouTube channel! I have officially started doing YouTube in 2023. There is a lot of really good stuff there that I prepped at the end of last year about following through, new year’s resolutions, breaking down goals, I do some whiteboard talk. And so, if you’re interested in a place where you can watch me do more education absolutely for free, YouTube is the place to look. It is @bodybrainalliance on YouTube, or you can just search Body Brain Alliance in the search bar, and you’ll find it!

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Hi, I'm Karin

I’m a funfetti flavor super-fan, a loving dog mom, a PhD expert in mindset and behavior change… and I’m here to help make personal development and transformation a process that’s actually fun.

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