Its a new year and like many of you, I've been thinking about how to eat better, exercise, better/more, improve self care, and do the same for my entire family. So, how do we do that and stick with it? Baby steps, SMART goals, and not overwhelming ourselves with the feeling that all of these things have to be done today, because that is the kind of thing that seriously burns us out. By the way, the SMART in SMART goals stands for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-based. These are all important things to keep in mind when goal setting for any reason.
One thing that has continued to get in the way of me meeting goals in the past, and I imagine for many of you, is not only creating these small incremental goals but also knowing the difference between a "lapse" and a "relapse" and not giving myself a world of guilt for having a lapse. In psychology, the difference between a lapse and a relapse is an important one in goal setting. A lapse is a slip up in goal setting or even allowing yourself a pass when it comes to something like dieting or exercise or not sticking to your budget one day. Its saying to yourself, "okay, I'm human and I had a day or a few days over vacation where I didn't stick to my eating goals and now I'm going to keep working on them. I may have gained back 3 pounds but I lost them before and I'm going to lose them again and surround myself with people who can help me." A relapse is something like letting the negative self talk that usually creeps into our heads when we slip up, gets to us, and throws us off our goals entirely- something like "I am a fat person and I'm never going to be a skinny person no matter how hard I try. So I'm just going to eat whatever I want and forget about trying to eat healthy...its too hard."
You can apply the terms lapse and relapse to other situations, parenting, working on a big personal project like starting a business, saving money, dating even... The important issue is the guilt and shame that you give into when you have a setback. The reality is, we're all human and we all have setbacks. The ultimate question is, can you surround yourself with others who lift you back up, can you read a good book to get you back on track, can you trust your instincts to look in the mirror and meet your goals? And the answer is yes you can! You are still you, but you can improve you as long as you don't give up on yourself.