Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Are You too Hard or too Easy on Yourself?

What's your New Year's resolution going to be?

I first came across this quote a few years ago on Gretchen Rubin's blog The Happiness Project.

Accepting oneself does not preclude an attempt to become better.”    Flannery O’Connor

I wrote it down on a piece of cardboard and used it as a bookmark for months after first reading it.

I tend to be too hard on myself and on occasion will make myself unhappy by setting goals that are far too optimistic. The pro is, setting high standards often pushes me to high levels of achievement so I hesitate to back off on those standards. The con is, it can also take some of the fun out of whatever it is I'm focusing on. The other limitation those very high standards create, is sometimes I end up feeling less motivated when I look at missing a targeted goal instead of looking at what I actually did accomplish.

I've had some great success with replacing the concept of goals with resolutions instead. I think this may have to do with how goals are future focused and resolutions are more likely to deal with current behaviour. Resolutions are the, as an example, "eat healthy" part of lose a specific amount of weight style goals.

For your 2014 resolutions I have a few tips to help you succeed if you are too hard on yourself:

Focus on the Small Steps of Progress
Make action lists with steps as opposed to project lists with titles. 
Learn from Your Mistakes and Failures 
I've always felt I learn so much more when things go wrong than when they go right. I have to remind myself often, what can I learn from this situation and how can I use this information to avoid making the same mistake again and to move forward in a more informed way?
Set the Goal for Continuous Improvement
If you can do this you get a lot more opportunities to congratulate yourself for a job well done which is very motivating.

And for those of you who are too easy on yourself:

Stop Making Excuses
Instead use those excuses as reasons that will point you in the direction of what you need to fix.   
Demand More of Yourself 
Are you doing the minimum required to get by? Have you given any thought to the incredible high you could get by accomplishing so much more?
Remind Yourself that You are Cheating Yourself out of a Great Life 
Being too easy on yourself means you miss out on the really good things you could be experiencing if you put more effort into your life.

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