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This blog is all about all the things that make me up. I am a Mother, I am a Pagan Witch, I am a Wife, I am a homemaker, I am a student, I am Spiritual, I am a Teacher, I am Liberal Hippie, I am a Voter, and I am extremely opinionated! Plan to see it all! If you don't like what you see, feel free to leave! However, chances are, if you stick around, you'll find more to love than hate!


Monday, January 5, 2015

Keeping Resolutions

It's a new year. And for millions of Americans that means it's time to make resolutions they really DO plan on keeping. Unfortunately for most people, simply wanting to make a change isn't enough.  I'm sitting here typing with the TV on in the background and I'm watching the 6th commercial in 20 minutes for diet systems.  Seeing how losing weight is the most popular resolution, it makes sense that all the Gyms, Workout Videos, Diet Pills, Order In Diet Systems and everything else weight loss related would boost all their ad space right now.  From a business stand point, it makes sense. And clearly year after year after year people spend BILLIONS of dollars on this stuff. If I owned a diet company, I wouldn't do any different!

Now I won't lie. I was on the scale last night and was not all that pleased with the number that looked back at me. Like it or not, I am 225 pounds.  Which, being 5'6" tall, that puts my squarely in the "obese" category!  It's certainly not what I picture when I think of my body.  Of course to be fair, a decade ago, when I hit my heaviest point, I was a full 260lbs!  So although I'm not happy with my weight as of this moment, most women work to get back in to their "pre-baby" body, and I am doing SO much better than I was at that point - even after having 3 kids.  In fact, looking back at my journal, I'm 20 pounds lighter at this point than I was this time last year, so that's progress! But I still clearly have a ways to go before I can really fit into the "healthy" category though.

I don't generally make "new years resolutions" at all. But that's not to say that I don't work on my goals. But years ago I noticed a real issue with making yearly resolutions, by the end of the first 6 - MAYBE 8 - weeks, I've given up, forgotten or lost interest. And apparently that's the same issue everyone else has too.

Then it occurred to me that since, as a Pagan, I am celebrating Samhain as the "Celtic New Year" that that would be the perfect time for me to make resolutions, which I could then "renew" come January.  I thought this would really help me stay on track because by the time I had back-slid or given up, it would be time to renew.  Great plan.  But I ran in to a few issues with this plan.

First, I, like most people, was making year long resolutions - I'm going to fix my credit, I'm going to lose weight, I'm going to eat healthy...  Yadda Yadda...  Second, while renewing my resolutions 8 weeks in was a great way to "reboot" things, about 6 to 8 weeks later, I fell off the wagon again!  So lets face it, I was getting an extra 6 or 8 weeks MAYBE, but I was still failing.  I don't like to fail!

So it was time to figure out something that would work long term!  And after a few years of tweaking, I think I've pretty much figured it out.  Now, don't take that to mean I'm perfect. I still slip up. Sometimes for a full month at a time. But for the first time in my life I can say that I feel more "on track" to keeping my goals.  I'm seeing steady weight loss, without a "diet" or pills or anything special going on at all really...  My house is, well, still not organized as I would like, but it's much better than ever before! Our finances aren't perfect, but again, they're better.  And I'm feeling accomplished business wise. So all in all I feel I must be doing something right. I'm not where I want to be of course, I still have a lot of work to do, but I feel like I finally have a system that will get me there.
The Wheel of The Year

At this point you're probably wondering what exactly that "system" is. Well, it's not really all that complicated. After realizing that starting my resolutions at Samhain and renewing at the New Year was giving me an extra "boost" towards success I started to consider how I could make a system that would allow me to do that all year long. Then it hit me - "DUH, You're going to celebrate the Sabbats anyways! The Sabbats are all about celebrating the turn of the wheel, the progression from one stage of the year to the next...  What a better way to do that than to celebrate the progression from one stage of goals to a new one..."

And that's exactly what I started doing. For Samhain each year, the beginning of the Witch's year, I create a set of goals for the year.  What do I want to accomplish this coming year that will further me towards my "end game" goals in life?  But then I set up smaller goals, for a 6-week period, that will further me towards meeting those yearly goals. And I focus on the "how to" rather than the "what."  So rather than focusing on "losing 25lbs" I focus instead on "getting 8-10 glasses of water a day," "eat 10 servings of Fruit & Vegetables every day" and "workout for 15mins a day."  These are small changes. Changes that I can focus on making, and changes which will get me to that goal of weight loss. It's really about having a plan, and making sticking to the plan, my "short term" goal. Of course if I stick to the plan, I'll reach the bigger goal. But simply making a goal of "get organized" or "lose weight" or "learn Latin" doesn't work because it's abstract. Making a plan to "learn 10 new words a week" pushes you towards your goal without being unattainable.

Then, step two, is creating a "ritual" where you renew this process of plan making and goal setting as a part of your Sabbat celebration. This means you're going to review how your doing with the plans & goals you've set and do any tweaking, changing or improving that needs done every 6 weeks.  If you feel you've fulfilled or finished one stage, you move on, more forward and make plans towards the next step. If you feel you haven't quite done what you had hoped, this is the time to reassess and reconfigure, and start over.

Research says it takes 6 weeks to create a habit.  Which makes the time periods between Sabbats perfect for doing this.  Focus on doing something day after day for 6 weeks and by the end it will just be how you do things. If it's not, do it again...  Eventually it becomes habit and you move on.  It's a slow process. But lets face it, deciding you want to do something and then not doing it isn't a process at all.

Now if you're reading this and saying "I'm not Pagan, I don't do Sabbats. This isn't for me" don't fret. Although I do this as a part of my Sabbat celebration, you don't have to.  You could easily do this process just by marking days on the calendar to focus on your goals. Start with today and count 6 weeks, then another 6 weeks, then another... Use these days for your goal setting and renewing. If you feel you won't keep it, make it special.  Set something aside to do JUST on those days.  Maybe you have a favorite desert you love, but you never make because it's a Million calories...  Make it those days! Maybe you have a favorite little place to have lunch, but it costs more than you like to spend, so you never go... Go on those days. Or maybe you love shoes, but you generally don't buy them for yourself because you have 47 kids and all your cash goes to them.  Then make a point to set aside $5 or $10 a week every week so that on those "goal setting days" you can go out and buy yourself a reward.  It doesn't have to be big. But you should celebrate the goals you've met. And even if you have failed at every plan you made, if you're keeping the plan of reviewing and renewing every 6 weeks, you've kept at least one goal, so celebrate -- next time, you'll do better!

Whatever you do, whatever your goals, you CAN do it!  You CAN keep your resolutions, this year and every year! And I assure you, this system works! I was the least organized, laziest person I knew! But after making these changes, I have become productive, I've lost weight, I've changed the way my entire family eats & shops & spends...  And you can too!
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