It New Year, so of course people are trying to think about the best ways to improve themselves, how they can lose that holiday weight, how they can increase their salary, how they can be a better partner and an all-around improved version of the person they were last year.
I am passionate about people, I love their interactions, their perceptions, their emotions, their beliefs of the world and of others and how all of this connects together to create a whole worldview.
When it comes to self-development though, this fascinating interaction of emotions, thoughts, behaviours and upbringings create unique perceptions about the world and about the self.
In short, what I am getting at here is that everyone has their own perceptions of how they are going to be better than they were last year, in whatever area it is they want to improve.
Over the next few weeks, self-help book sales will increase, gym memberships will double at least and some may even consider quitting their job and starting something up for themselves.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of all of the above, and each has a place at times in our lives, but how do we truly create lasting, deep, positive change in our lives?
About 6 years ago I got into lifting at the gym. I found the process of working out almost therapeutic. Physical activity and weight lifting had always been a part of my life, but I now wanted to focus more on it.
I bought some new gym clothes and joined the gym at my university. I had heard that in order to really put on muscle, I had to eat more. So, this is what I did.
In truth, it ended in me gaining quite a bit of fat as opposed to muscle, at the time I thought I was doing well, I was working out quite a bit and eating as much as I thought I needed.
The reality was that I was doing the opposite, I was heavier, not as healthy as I had been and feeling unhappy with how I was looking.
Until I pointed the finger back at myself in every situation. You see, I was great at being able to point the finger at others and convince myself that I was in the position I was in because of them. “I have the wrong workout programme”, “I go to the wrong gym”, “the government is putting hidden sugar in my milk”.
All of this went on in my head as to why I wasn’t getting to where I wanted to be. It wasn’t until I made my self accountable for everything, and I mean everything, that I started to see change. Now, you might this that this sounds like a massive strain on a person to hold themselves accountable for everything, sometimes people don’t have control over their circumstances.
I completely agree. Take the weight situation for example, people might get ill, or medication that they need to take may cause weight issues. What I would say in circumstances such as these is to hold yourself accountable for the factors you do have control over. You’ll be surprised, when fully honest with yourself, just how much of an impact accountability can have.
When I pointed the finger back at myself and said, “it’s not the gyms fault, or the workout programmes fault, or even the government’s fault, it’s my fault”, I started to see change. I realised I wasn’t reading the labels of my food correctly, I realised that although I was eating more, I wasn’t calculating how much. I held my self accountable in the gym, working harder than I had the previous week and working around injuries and illnesses.
After doing this, I saw real change. I felt happier with myself and with my workout regime. What’s more is that This accountability led me to feel pride that I had pushed myself to achieve what I had. I didn’t rely on self-help schemes or even a personal trainer. I held myself accountable and made the changes that way. It led to consistency in my workouts and fed into other areas of my life, such as my academic studies.
The reason for this post is simple. Over the next few weeks, we will hear a lot of professions, and those that maybe aren’t professionals, talk about how to make your new year’s resolutions last, how to keep them going for a full year rather than just a full week. Holding yourself accountable for the situation you want to change, even when it may be the case that others should be more accountable than you, it’s what will develop lasting change. It will drive you to continual growth a feeds into all other aspects of your life…I off to the gym!