‘Your health is important. Your goals are important. And your life is important …’
I wrote these words about one year ago, when I was setting my goals for the year (which I always do around this time). I then vulnerably shared them with you in a candid blog* about how I needed to make some BIG changes in my life, in order to overcome crippling migraines and achieve that ever-elusive work-life balance …
As I sit here reflecting on my progress with those goals (as I also always do around this time**), I had another important reflection that I wanted to share with you. My hope is that by sharing my personal experiences, as well as the experiences of some of my clients, I can help you unlock this vital key to your transformations, this year and beyond …
On the personal front, my most important goal last year was to become headache free. At the start of last year, I was in the middle of a many-month headache … yes, you heard that right! Actually, in my blog I used the word ‘headaches’, but – after learning more, I came to understand that they were actually migraines. Although that wasn’t good news to hear, fortunately, the bad news story had a happy ending. With a lot of work, trial-and-error, reflection and refinement – and the help of doctors, optometrists, physios, massage therapists, radiologists, hypnotherapists, phlebotomists, neurologists, mattress retailers (and more!) – I’m pleased to be able to tell you that I’m almost there with this goal. I have just a touch of a headache a couple of times a week now (and don’t worry, I’m still working on it!).
My other big personal goal was to achieve a better work-life balance. Being someone who was taught to work hard, who absolutely loves his job, and who works out of a home office (during COVID, to boot!), I was in the perfect storm to become a workaholic, and a hearing a comment made by my best friend ‘Oh, he’s married to his job’ really hit home the need to do something about this in 2021. And the result at the end of the year? While making the changes involved more emotional discomfort than I’ve experienced in quite some time (possibly ever!), I’m proud to report that I’ve worked approximately 40 days less this year than the average days worked over the past ten years! This is huge for me, and it shows me what my clients have been showing me all year – that you can still transform in times of adversity.
So YAY for me on both fronts – and I have to say that I feel like I’ve killed it with last year’s goals 🙂🙂🙂
But the real thing I wanted to share with you was HOW LONG it took me to make these transformations …
The headaches one was relatively quick – after I stopped hoping they would go away by themselves, I threw everything I had at them, and they all but resolved within 4-5 months or so.
The work goal – well, that one took me about 5 YEARS to make any significant progress with. I’d been working too much for over ten years, and for the first 5 of those years, I was in what psychologists call the pre-contemplative stage of change (meaning I hadn’t even thought of working less!). But even after I saw the value in finding more time for myself, turning the dream into reality just never seemed to happen. For a full five years, I’d set the goal to work less year after year, and end the year disappointed, thinking ‘oh well, let’s hope for next year’. It’s only been last year that I’ve finally taken tangible steps towards it!
My point is that sometimes we’re the hare, and sometimes we’re the tortoise … but that doesn’t really matter! What matters is that we keep working at it, keep trying to find a way, and keep having faith that eventually, we will get there.
The hare-and-tortoise principle, of course, is not one that applies only to me. As a practicing psychologist, I see it in my clients every day! In my final week of consulting for the year, I had two clients demonstrate this principle perfectly. One man we’ll call Bill came in at the start of the year, telling me ‘I want to stop drinking so much, I want to lose a lot of weight, and I want to gain the confidence to finally strive for a job promotion’. In our end of year reflection session, we were like ‘Check … Check … Check!’, and I found myself writing in my notes for the next session ‘Talk with Bill, does he need to see me anymore?’ A woman we’ll call Sally has been working with me for over a year, and in our last session, she told me ‘I’ve finally gotten to a place where I can authentically feel like I’m an okay person, deep down, even though I’m still ugly on the outside’. My clinical notes for Sally read something like ‘Self-esteem down***, body image to go!’
I will be happy to finish up with Bill whenever he is ready, and I’ll be happy to continue with Sally for the next ten years (In fact, I would have been happy if improving her self-esteem alone took ten years!), because I put a little twist on the original hare-and-tortoise story … I know that Sally and Bill aren’t in competition. They are on their own personal journeys, and – if their aims are truly long-term change (as they always are in my therapy!) – then the only thing that matters is that we can all get there in the end.
Because, if we persist at our transformations, and we don’t give up along the way, the ONLY possibility is that we will get to where we want to be …
Of course, change is never linear.
While my migraines are all-but-gone, they are not gone, and will require ongoing attention.
And, if I’m honest with myself, while I’m working less, work hasn’t become much less of a priority … it’s still coming in front of things it shouldn’t. I know there is more work to be done here**** …
And last week I also had a client return after 5 years of not seeing me – a lot had changed for her (good and bad), and she needed my support again. Our transformations are not linear, as life is not linear.
What they don’t tell us – and what we’re all better off once we accept – is that there is no absolute finish line – the finish line changes! Sometimes it’s further away than we thought, sometimes it’s in a different direction, and sometimes we have to go all over the map to a million checkpoints before we can get there. And we have different speeds for reaching different goals – with my headaches I was a hare, and with my work I was (/am) a tortoise, but thank goodness I kept moving forward with both of them. And I’m sure that the time I spent over the last five years trying to reach my work-life balance goal wasn’t wasted, I was learning, problem-solving, and overcoming barriers the whole time – storing up the little changes until they reached a critical threshold where they appear to have just happened – as though ‘everything clicked into place’ (when this happens in psychology sessions, I always ask what the person did to make it ‘all click into place’!). So set sail and continue your journey, my friend. Even if you don’t reach your finish line, you’ll probably be in a much better place than when you started, and I have no doubt that this will be a better vantage point to assess further finish lines you’d like to aim for in the future …
As he often does, Winston Churchill has some wise words on the matter:
‘Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.’
So I want you to know that, fast or slow, or anywhere in between, and through all of the ‘successes’ and all of the ‘failures’ along the way, like all of my clients – and like me – you can do it.
I want you to transcend your challenges, and eventually reach all of your goals. So let’s keep moving forward in 2022! We’ve got this 🙂🙂🙂
As you contemplate what you may be able to achieve in the new year, I wanted to offer one final reflection. While I have had to acknowledge the changes that needed to be made in my life, and get in the right mindset to begin to make them, I couldn’t have done any of it without support – I needed help!
And while help from loved ones is important, sometimes you need professional help. In last year’s blog I outlined all of the professional supports I received in order to reduce my headaches. But even they were not enough. To combat the combined (and related) challenges of the migraines and the work-life balance, I came to realize that I needed the support of a psychologist, one on one. While I had to overcome a (completely unnecessary) professional embarrassment, take the time to find the right person, and make the time to have the appointments (as well as pay for them!), I think it may be the single most important thing I’ve done to help me achieve all of the results I’ve managed to in 2021, and today I’ll be booking in regular sessions for all of 2022! This transformational process has reinforced to me the importance of getting support for the changes you want to make in life. So if you need a professional to help you, go and get them! And if you’re worried about the money, the time, or what other people will think, remember …
Your health is important, your life is important, you are important.
So if seeing a health professional, reading a book, or doing a particular program can help you in 2022, you’re worth it.
And if you would like support specifically with transforming your eating, physical activity, weight, and body image, we’re here for you.
At our clinic, we have the most wonderful team of super-passionate psychologists and dietitians, who support people all over Australia, and they have just opened up more availabilities to better support you in the new year!
And I’d love you to consider joining our groundbreaking new online program, the Transformation Support Community. To help you to achieve your goals in 2022, I’m offering all new members ONE MONTH’S FREE MEMBERSHIP, until Sunday the 9th of January! But, holding true to my continued work-life balance goals, we as a team have taken a break from supporting the community until the 24th of January, so you can use the time before that to get familiar with the program, set yourself up, and check out all of the online programs, audio programs, and webinar series included in your membership, before we kick off the year with a new live webinar series about Reaching Your Goals & Becoming Who You Want to Be on the 31st of January. If you think this may be right for you, get in quick, as – to ensure the continued quality of the community – I limit the growth of the membership, so this offer is only available for the first 10 people only 🙂🙂🙂
Whether or not you end up working with us, my wish for you is the same as it is for me in 2022. That we can keep working through our transformations, making room for all of the big steps, slow steps, sideways steps, and even backwards steps along the way, having faith that if we keep moving forward, we will, over time, get to exactly where we want to be …
Because our goals are important. Our lives are important. We are important.
… and therefore, that we continue to change, is important.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on my reflection, and any self-reflections that have come up as a result, and as always, I’m yours in transformation,
*It was my most popular blog ever! I’d highly recommend reading it if you’re thinking that your personal transformation may require making some BIG changes in the future.
**Although don’t we all, in some way?
***Or up, really.
****As a personal mental note, as much as anything else, I have a feeling that the next stage of transformation is to disentangle work from my overall identity, so I can return to being ‘Glenn’ instead of being ‘Glenn the weight psych’ (the weight psych guy is doing great things, but while he is an important part of me, he needs to be reminded that he is not me!).