Auntie Says: Hit the reset button this September

South Okanagan-based columnist Faye Arcand

Faye Arcand is a columnist with the Penticton Western News

Have you ever gotten to that point in the year where you need a change?

A fresh start? Do you have that same negative message looping through your brain and bringing you down? You know the one it sounds like ‘who cares anyway?’ ‘why bother?’ ‘I’m not that good/smart/thin/fast so why try?’ I’ve tried before and it didn’t work.’

All that negativity stuck in your brain, affects you every single day whether you realize it or not. It’s tucked in the back of your head and sucks you in because you don’t see any other way out. It’s time to hit the reset button and give yourself a break from your own negative self talk.

When you look back at the beginning of the year, were there things you wanted to complete or accomplish throughout the year? January is usually the time to make resolutions and set goals but it’s the wrong time of year to do any of that. Think about it — January is a cold, miserable month and the bills from Christmas start coming in, that’s no fun. You then make resolutions and pile on the pressure of having to change something major in your life and that can be a recipe for failure. It’s sad really because though you start with the best intentions, the odds for success are not in your favour.

Fast forward nine months and you have September presenting itself with all it’s glory. There’s a fresh energy in the air that can add a boost to anyone’s mood. The days are warm and the evenings cool, sheer perfection compared to January. September is the beginning of a new school year and it’s a time when new routines are reconfigured and embraced. What a great time to start a New Year. What a great time to toss out the negative self talk, take back the control, set new goals and make positive self-affirmations.

Who said that January was the only time you could set resolutions or goals? That’s ridiculous. You still have time to revisit those you made in January or set some new ones. You’re going to do things a bit different though. You need a calendar, a commitment, and some sort of accountability (ie: a friend to share your progress with).

To set a goal, you must have a time line — a beginning and an end, otherwise it’s just wishful thinking. The goal needs to be very specific and measurable. You may have a goal to be nicer to yourself. What does that look like? Does it mean you won’t eat chips at night or you will walk 30 minutes everyday, or perhaps you’ll commit to eight hours of sleep every night. Whatever it is, you must be specific and that’s how you begin to turn a dream into reality.

One thing to remember is that any goal you set should be about you. It’s not about fulfilling someone else’s agenda, it’s about being true to yourself and doing what you want. This is about YOU. Goals can often start with good intentions, but the energy dwindles and that’s why it’s good to have someone to discuss it with perhaps your Auntie? If you’re beginning to fall back into bad habits, you need to revisit and adjust the goal. Any goal should be realistic and attainable. Change doesn’t come over night. Don’t set yourself up for failure. That can be depressing and brutal to the self-esteem.

Also be sure to set mini-goals. For example, if your goal is to drink only one latte a week, and you’re currently drinking one everyday, make the goal to drink only four, then three, then two. The idea is to set yourself up for success and long term change rather than to fail. If you begin to set these goals now, by January your new behaviour should be ingrained and a new normal.

G — go for it. Give yourself permission to be successful. O — only for you, don’t do it for others. A—attainable — be realistic. L — look for the long term change.

September is such a beautiful time of year to get outside (another plus compared to January), so take a deep breath and push that reset button.

And, to answer that loop in your head, I’ll tell you Auntie cares. You DO matter, and you ARE that good/smart/thin/fast and you CAN make anything happen. I believe in you. Happy New Year!

Faye Arcand is a freelance writer living in the South Okanagan. You can reach her with your questions at faye.arcand@icloud.com.