I just had that feeling. You know, the one you get when you already know the answer but feel like you should ask anyway. So I called my doctor for my lab results. Now, I've lived with me all year so there was really no surprise - other than my actually wanting to confirm what I already suspected. As I sat in the restaurant waiting to order I checked my voicemail. In the following forty five seconds I got the message. A change was not just in order. A change was imperative.
I have long subscribed to the adage "go big or go home". Historically I didn't just vow to lose weight. I vowed to lose 20 pounds in three months, which of course required me to hit the gym daily (even though I hadn't seen the inside of a gym in months). I didn't just decide to take up a meditation practice. I promised myself I would meditate everyday for half an hour. I also promised myself I would journal every day, walk every day, practice yoga every day. I'm guessing I don't have to tell you how this turned out. By March my gym bag was in the back of the closet; I had quit meditating altogether because I felt guilty that I couldn't follow through; I remembered about every third day to journal something - anything; and my yoga punch pass expired with most of the punches in tact.
I've learned a lot in the past two years but hands down the most helpful lesson has been this... attempts at large, whole sale changes simply don't work for me. I cannot sustain them. I don't know, maybe no one can. So, with this new found wisdom on board, I made a different kind of decision sitting in that restaurant. Many experiences prior to my doctor's phone message had me considering a move towards a plant-based diet. And everything I had read told me this was the only non-pharmaceutical way to lower my cholesterol. But I know me. Transforming from a carnivore to a vegan in the span of one forty-five second phone call was not going to turn out well. So I leaned into what I have learned. Small steps. Big life.
My first small step was to choose from the menu something without meat. My next small step was to pay attention to how I felt after I ate that way. Surprisingly I discovered that while I love the taste of a good steak, I really don't like how I feel after I've eaten it. As I practiced these two simple steps together - choosing differently and then paying attention to how I felt - I began to discover new, healthier things I enjoyed eating. I tasted new dishes and experienced new flavors that made my stomach and my arteries feel better. My diet is not yet as healthy as it needs to be but practicing just these two small steps has had an amazing impact on my physical well being, laying the foundation for a healthier me.
January 1st is the day when many of us articulate our hope for a better future - for us, our family, for the world. My experience suggests the secret is to not set ourselves up for failure, to roll into March with something more than regret and disappointment.
Our success - our bigger, abundant life- may be designed on big dreams but it is built one brick at a time.
If you are considering a resolution for 2017, vision the whole dream, be clear about the outcome you want, and then lay one brick. Take one small step. Practice that one small step over and over until it becomes part of you. Then take another. It may feel at times like a grudgingly slow process but it is a lasting one. Remember, it is the small steps that lead to a bigger life, not feats of the impossible. One small step built upon another will result in lasting change not just for 2017, but for ever.