I love the new year and I love setting goals! If you have known me long enough, you know I am a serial list maker, and I am usually thinking months down the road. I like to plan and I feel the need to be prepared for everything. Anyone else relate? There’s nothing wrong with goals and plans, but this kind of mentality can easily add stress and anxiety to our lives. How do you feel when you don’t meet your goal or you don’t check off every item on your list? What happens when our plan doesn’t happen the way we expected? What happens when life throws a curveball in the present moment, but our minds are already months ahead?
For me, personally, this has been a major struggle in my life, and has had a huge effect on my IBS symptoms. Especially around this time of year. When I look back at a previous year, I usually see all the things I didn’t do or the things I didn’t do as well as I should have. I feel the pressure to set a page of “to-dos” that should make this year better than the last. But, I have learned that this never really works. Goals are great and reflection is necessary, but a checklist doesn’t lead to growth. Instead, looking at the foundation of each success or “failure,” then making small adjustments at the core of who I am will lead to the growth I desperately need to be my best, personally and professionally.
I declare this year to be the Year of the Gut, but instead of challenging you with a list of things to do like work out everyday or eat more kale, I challenge you to take time to reflect on who you became this year, what changed in your life, and what needs to be adjusted for a more vibrant life, and consequently a happier gut. Here are a few questions to help guide you through this reflection, and I will give you a few examples of mindset shifts, as well as applicable steps, you can make as we enter 2019.
Does my fear of food or anxiety about my success in life control my days?
Are my relationships feeding my soul or are they taking the life out of my body?
Am I truly grateful for and connected to my body, or am I disconnected from and frustrated with it?
Do I eat food that nourishes my body and am I confident with the food choices I make each day?
Do I move my body with the purpose of caring for it, or do I punish my body with either lack of exercise or over-exercise?
Am I satisfied with the work I accomplish each day, or do I work with no purpose?
Do I have hope in my life or does my cynical outlook on life keep me in depression?
Do I take time to care for myself or do I ignore my body’s needs in order to “hustle”?
These are only a few examples of questions you could ask. Don’t be afraid to sit in silence and explore the tangents these questions can take you on. After you answer them honestly, either with someone you trust or by yourself, these are a few examples of what you can do to move forward.
I am going to establish care with a therapist to talk about my anxiety.
I am going to seek counsel from leaders in my faith to find freedom from my fear and anxiety.
I am going to let go of the people and things in my life that cause more fear, stress, anxiety, or hopelessness. I will seek out positive relationships, fulfilling work, and life-giving community.
I am going to work with a dietitian to learn about how to manage my IBS, so I can be confident in my choices and feel connected to my body again.
I am going to create space each day to check in with my body and give it what it needs. (Ideas: movement, nourishing food, stillness, breath, self-care, etc.)
I am going to join a fitness community that is body-positive and challenges me to connect with my body, instead of one that pushes my body too far and makes me insecure in the way my body looks.
I am going to be brave and be more vulnerable with the people in my life so I don’t feel so isolated and alone.
Growth isn’t always easy, and it doesn’t always feel like sunshine and rainbows. However, when we take the time to dig deep and make changes in our foundation, including stress management, movement, food choices, outlook on life, and vulnerability in relationships, we will step into a life that is free from fear of food and control from IBS. Who is ready to feel confident, secure, and free in their body? Who is ready to have a vibrant life with meaningful relationships and lasting impact? Challenge yourself to step away from your giant goal list and take the time to create resolutions that will take you further than any goal ever could.