In September, I posted on my Instagram story my September "Intentions." This is what I posted:
And here's my secret, I failed. A few days I did what I wrote, but most days I didn't. Truthfully, the thought of these objectives rarely crossed my mind. I'm not proud of it.
Since I did rather poorly on accomplishing what I set out to do, I didn't want to share how I did this month. I thought, "No one probably even remembers that I posted this, and no one is planning on hearing how I did. There is no need for me to air my dirty laundry." Well, whether that may or may not be true, something deeper inside me prompted me to share.
My initial response to my failure was "Well, that was a pretty pathetic attempt. How embarrassing. You spend your day helping other people change their habits, and you couldn't even change your own. Who do you think you are?!" Those were just a few of the lies that snuck into my head. It gets dark fast. When the proper boundaries are not set in place, it is so easy for the devil to tempt us in to feeling ashamed, discouraged, and to want to turn and hide. But friends, Christ is calling us in to the light!
If I wanted to accomplish these intentions, why didn't I? Why was I not disciplined? Where was the disconnect? In Romans we see Paul grappling with a similar idea, he cries, "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do." (Romans 7:15). He continues with this idea for a few verses, but then comes to the conclusion, "What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!" (Romans 7:24-25). How relatable and how beautiful! It is Christ who makes us whole. He gives us the ability to change. He delivers us! Because of Christ, there is grace when we fall short. Ephesians 2:4-5 says, "But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ, even when we were dead in our trespasses. It is by grace you have been saved!" You guys, the Lord does not want us to sit in our shame! I am confident I am not unique in my failure, and I am confident in the Lord's deliverance.
So with that, where do you turn when you fail? How do you respond?
The Lord created us with the beautiful ability to problem solve. You have the ability to control how you process your disappointments. In fact, your discouragement can fuel your change.
I want to provide a framework to address your failures that will promote change. You were made for more than good intentions! The questions below will help you address the places where you failed, understand why you failed, and allow you to decide how to best move forward to ACCOMPLISH what you set out to do. No more sitting in shame, discouragement, or embarrassment. You can accomplish your goals!
First, what does the Bible say about who God is?
This question is vital to keep our identity set in place. We must remember The Lord is God and we are not. There are SO many statements about who the Lord is, but here are just a few:
The Lord is the Creator of all things, the Everlasting God, He does not grow weary, and He knows all things (Isaiah 40:28). He is the Savior of all (Luke 2:11, 1 Timothy 1:15, Luke 19:10, Matthew 1:21, 1 John 4:14...etc). He is omnipresent (Joshua 1:9). He is perfect and without sin (2 Corinthians 5:21). He is love (1 John 4:8). The Lord is good, forgiving, and abounding in steadfast love to all who call on Him (Psalm 86:5).
When we look to who Jesus is, "the founder and perfecter of our faith" (Hebrews 12:2), we can keep running the race with our eyes set on the Lord (Hebrews 12). Our life and striving are for Him, not ourselves, not the world, but for HIM. The Lord anchors us. He will strengthen us, help us, hold us because He is righteous (Isaiah 41:10). Knowing and remembering my life is for Christ does many things, but three key elements are...1) It reminds me I am forgiven and set free from my shortcomings. 2) It gives me responsibility and purpose to be an image-bearer of Christ. 3) It gives me peace, knowing who God is, and why I am here. I can take what feels like a massive responsibility, and count it as joy because He strengthens me and holds me up in His righteousness.
What does the Lord say about who I am?
It is vital to not only remember who the Lord is, but also remember what God says about who we are. I'm not my accomplishments. My accomplishments do not make me worthy to be loved. My performance doesn't define me. My job, my marriage, my friendships, my family...none of that defines me. Rather, I cling to the truths of what Scripture says about me...I am loved by God (John 3:16). I am His child (1 John 3:1). I am delighted in (Psalm 18:19). I am made in His Image (Genesis 1:27). I am valuable (Matthew 10:31). I am made new (2 Corinthians 5:17). I need Jesus (Romans 3:23). I am saved by grace, through faith (Ephesians 2:8).
The truth of who the Lord is and what He says about me, sets me free. I can bring my failures, worries, and fears to the foot of the cross. In this act of surrendering, I am living for Him and His purposes.
After we grapple with the depths of our heart, we then must start addressing the lighter, practical, day-to-day ponderings.
How do you envision your best health? Do these goals align with that vision?
When you find your goals are consistently getting pushed to the back-burner, it is time to reassess your vision. What do you desire for your health/life? Without needing to know how you are going to get there, how do you want your life to look in 5 years? Is how you are currently living align with, or contradict that vision? Do the goals you want to achieve fit into this vision of best health?
What is important to you in life? What do you value? Do these goals align with what's important to you?
Dovetailing from the previous question, it is critical to evaluate your priorities. What do you want each day or each year to be marked by? If someone asked you what you care about most, what would that be? Do the goals you set align with what you value?
Do you have the time, energy, and emotional bandwidth to commit to these goals?
It is important to assess where these goals are going to fit into your daily or weekly routine. Do you actually have the time, energy, and emotional bandwidth to commit to what you are desiring? If not, can you realistically change something to have the bandwidth, or is the goal truly impractical in this phase of life? What are you already committed to that you want to keep in place? What are the things that you are willing to get rid of? What is more important to you; the things you currently have set in place or the goal you are looking to accomplish?
What are the barriers to change?
By assessing the barriers you are going to encounter and finding a solution for each barrier, you set yourself up for success. Remember, "hope is not a strategy." Things will always get in the way or come up. Do you have a Plan A and Plan B in place (and maybe even a Plan C & D)? Do you need to have a conversation with your spouse about your plan? Let's say you want to go to bed at 10:30 PM Monday - Friday. What is your plan if you aren't tired? Will you continue to stay up and watch Netflix and passively surf your phone, or will you decompress while reading? Making sure every barrier has a plan sets you up for success!
Do you have competing values?
Sometimes when we don't accomplish our goals, it is because we have competing values. For example: You want to workout in the morning, but that's one of the few times you have to connect with your family before everyone's day gets crazy. Both are important! Which one takes top priority? Can you wake up earlier to make both work? Can you find a way to make exercise a family affair? Could you have a conversation with your family and hear their thoughts or solutions? Could you prep breakfast the night before, so you could workout in the morning and still spend time with your family? Again, this goes back to finding a plan to your barriers while adding a ranking of priorities. By having a plan and deciding what is a priority in a given season of life, you are much more likely to accomplish what you set out to do.
Does something need to happen before you can reach your goals?
What is standing in the way of accomplishing your goals? Let's say you wanted to start working out 3 days a week. Do you feel as though you have the necessary means to do this? Do you know where to start? Do you need a gym membership, personal trainer, new pair of tennis shoes, or a set time to go? What do you need to do before these goals are attainable?
How can you start small?
I ask this question to all my clients. A goal you set might be a 3-month goal, in which you have many small action steps prior to that. For example, if you want to workout every day, but you currently are not exercising, don't just simply try one week to make it happen. Set yourself up for success by starting small. Maybe it is choosing to go to the gym once this week, twice next week, three times the following week, and then building from there. Whatever your goal is, make sure you start small before trying to tackle it all at once.
How will you know if you are successful?
How can you measure your success in a way that will be uplifting? Is it simply checking the box? Is it a jean size you want to fit into? Is it a way you want to feel? Remember to recognize your partial successes. We won't be perfect immediately, but by seeing where you did small things well will build the confidence you need to continue.
Who is going to hold you accountable?
Accountability allows for a beautiful transformation. Knowing you have someone who is going to check in with you, encourage you when you want to give up, and keep you on the straight and narrow greatly increases your likelihood of success. Do you need to ask someone to hold you to your word? Do you need a health coach to come alongside you? What does accountability look like for you? Is it daily? Is it weekly? Is it tough love? Is it encouragement? What do you need to hold you to your goals?
How will you celebrate your success?
Lastly, how do you want to celebrate your success? Celebrating success makes working towards your goals fun! One word of caution -- try not to make it a solo food reward/a super unhealthy food reward. Rather, make it something that lasts longer or cultivates memories. A few examples are...
Buy yourself flowers (my personal favorite :))
Go on a fun trip
Buy a new piece of workout gear or a fun piece of clothing
Get a new journal
Go see a movie
Get a massage/manicure/pedicure/facial...etc.
Take a bath
Go out to your favorite restaurant with loved ones
Throw a party Go to a concert
Buy a plant
...You get the point. Whatever you find both rewarding and feasible, have that be something you use to celebrate! It is exciting to accomplish your goals! Decide today to live a balanced, joy-filled life. I am rooting for you and always here to help!