Reflection before moving forward
Honoring reflection time for ourselves provides opportunity for awareness, self-growth, and ultimately a life we love living and one we live lovingly.
Several years ago, I came up with the not-so-snazzy acronym of “RARA”:
It was close to the end of a calendar year and so the bombardment of diet challenges and “new year, new you” slogans were flooding the email inboxes, TV ads, and social media feeds. I can’t imagine it will be any different this year… in fact, probably worse given that over 70% of adults in the USA are on at least one social media platform.
Before hopping on any of the new year buzzapedia that’s about to hit your eyeballs pretty hard, I’d like to vote for spending a few minutes in the RARA world. It’s a different brain exercise that will help you plan and prepare for a successful year ahead. Or at least give you more direction for where you want to go (not where all the other noise seemingly wants you to go).
The RARA deets below are given in the context of health, nutrition, and fitness, yet the general intention of RARA can apply to career paths and other life choices we have.
Reflect: Ponder this past year in the context of health and fitness (or athletic progress if you are an athlete). Some questions that may help with the reflection process include:
What has gotten better, worse, or stayed the same?
Have you been injured frequently, experienced a loss of strength or speed, or struggled to maintain energy in your daily living and during training? Are you living each day with a high mojo level?
How is your body changing with the aging process? (Do you even know?)
Did your races or events turn out the way you hoped?
Take the time to think about the successes, defeats, and stalls without judgement. There are few of us who will find that everything is perfect with no room for improvement on some level.
Assess: With what you have noted from your reflections, now take some time to piece it apart. This may require another set of eyes from a health practitioner, therapist, or coach, but a goal here includes determining the influences or contributors to progress and success, or the lack thereof.
Did you let nutrition or exercise fall by the wayside? Did you overwork yourself or take on too much? Have you even made yourself a priority? How did you attend to sleep, stress management, and other healthful habits?
Your personal assessment process can be difficult, but it is a necessary step in order to get a better grasp of what needs to change. I also suggest including an assessment of behaviors you are willing to modify towards positive outcomes in your life. It’s all well and good to know what you are supposed to do, but entirely irrelevant if you do not connect to the values of these behaviors.
Resolve: Many people tend to skip the aforementioned two steps and jump to the New Years Resolutions. Unfortunately, the success rate for these folx is very low. It makes sense why - you can’t just say you want to do amazing things without taking the time to understand how you got to where you are now. So, be sure you’ve done adequate self-reflection and self-assessment before starting your resolution list.
What are the (small) things you need to modify to begin tackling the areas of needed improvement? Think about the changeable aspects in your environment, your support network, your “daily system”, your mindset and dig in. Make a list of the process goals that will support your overall outcome goal(s) and scale it small. Our brains want to go for the big kahunas, but you gotta reign it in and pull it back. Stay focused on all the little steps that are going to get you where you ultimately want to be.
A big mistake people make is trying to make huge changes way too fast and being hyper-focused on the outcomes rather than the processes and systems. If you want to be more successful, you gotta start small and work on mastering that li’l repeated behavior(s).
Act: Now we take steps forward. The world is your oyster, so to speak. You’ve done your homework on “Project You” so give the plan your best effort, one step and one day at a time. Over and over. In the words of James Clear, “Build the behavior first. Worry about the results later.”
You will have bumps in the road and occasional setbacks. So long as you have the courage and patience to get back on the horse (and learn from those setbacks), you will keep going forward towards the successes you desire and building the life in which you live fully.
Alright, readers, I wish you good RARA time. And if you care to share with me how you’re doing, drop me a note - I’d love to hear about your journey.