Far out! What a year this has been already.
I mean, I'm all about lifestyle change, but the whole population having to make huge changes to their lifestyle all at once is a bit overwhelming.
For some folks, these last few months have been just about surviving. Putting one foot in front of the other, putting the next meal on the table, just basically keeping themselves safe.
For others, the challenges have been different - changing work practices, new ways of doing business, longer hours and new sources of stress.
If you're not familiar with Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, it is a theory of human psychology which was developed by Abraham Maslow and first published in 1943. Maslow's theory was that a person needed to have the lower levels sorted out before they could move on to the things in the higher levels.
Take a look at the lower levels - the physiological and safety needs. How many of these were threatened for you this year?
Many people have been posting on social media about stuff that belongs in the very tip of the pyramid. Using the shutdown to work on "being the best you can be", learning a new skill, working on some aspect of personal growth. But there's no way most people can do that - they're too busy dealing with lost empoyment, insecure housing and altered family dynamics.
A few people have come to me disappointed in themselves that they haven't been achieving the goals they set at the start of the year. Typically, a quick look at the effects on their lives of the pandemic and all that's gone with it makes it pretty clear why.
My husband has a saying from his Army days that "no good plan survives contact with the enemy". And seriously, no one's 2020 plans have survived contact with Covid19.
But as things ease up a bit, kids head back to school and we start to return to something approaching normal, my most frequently asked question is "How do I get back on track now?"
Even without a pandemic to deal with, everyone falls off track from time to time. It might be an injury that stops you following your exercise plan for a while. Or an illness that disrupts your eating or sleeping patterns. Or just life in general getting busy and disrupting your focus on your goals.
Often, this is the point where people give up. Well, that's it, they say, I've blown it. I might as well just forget about it now.
So it might sound overly simplistic, but the first step to getting back on track, is to plan to do it and to believe that you can.
Take a look at your goals, and readjust. Is there something there that is no longer possible or realistic, like a trip that's no longer possible or a purchase that's no longer affordable? Let those things go. Be kind to yourself - it's OK to mourn those things that now will not be, it's OK to be angry about it, or frustrated, or sad or however you feel. You're going to feel that way anyway, feeling bad about your feelings only makes things worse. Then get determined. "OK, I can't do that. I'm going to do what I can"
Focus on the absolute basics - food, shelter, health, family. The bottom tiers of the pyramid.
Maybe you're working a ton of overtime right now, and also trying to teach kids at home and manage everything on a tighter budget. So that January goal of getting into the gym is not reasonable - even when the gym reopens, you may not have the time or the money. That's OK. Don't beat yourself up. But also, don't give up. Instead of thinking "well, that's all out the window", see if there's something you can do. We've all got to eat. Maybe your step one towards your health goals is making sure you remember to eat something in all the chaos! If you're grabbing quick snacks on the go, maybe you need to make sure you have some fruit on hand, so you can grab an apple instead of a biscuit? (A bag of whichever apples are on special typically costs about the same as a packet of sweet biscuits)
It's not going to be perfect. Nothing is! Make what little changes you can right now, and as things improve you can start to add to them.
The most important thing is not to give up, and not to beat yourself up.
If you're working your butt off each day just to sort those bottom two levels of the pyramid, then you my friend absolutely rock. Don't ever forget that.