It’s mid-January – how are you doing on your New Year’s Resolutions? Oh, you say you don’t even bother making them anymore because you can never keep them? Well, you’re not alone. That was my excuse for many years. I would declare familiar goals: “No more sugar for me!” “I don’t want to limp any more.” “I’m finishing my book this year!” “I’m going to be debt free!”
You get the picture – but invariably, I’d be successful for a few days, sometimes even a few weeks (although that was rare!), then I’d be attracted to a chocolate bar, an opportunity to spend my savings or get too busy to complete projects. As I caved to temptation and reverted back to my pre-New Year’s status, an accompanying thought was there: “you can’t do it; why try?” That thought led to the behavior – I gave up.
Then I discovered the miracle of SPAM – yes, that maligned can of potted meat actually can help get past homeostasis – our body and mind’s natural bent to return to what is known, what is familiar.
S = Small and Specific
P = Practical
A = Achievable
M = Measurable
Let me show you how this can work. I’ve had 10 surgeries on my right foot and leg to remove recurring tumors. In the process, muscles and tendons were removed, nerves cut and a lot of scar tissue appeared where there used to be normal flesh and bone. As a result, I walked with a pretty pronounced limp.
That was something I desperately wanted to change – I wanted to wear high heels again and walk normally – without a limp!
Enter my new found friend – SPAM!
My “S” goal? Stretch my foot and leg each day.
Next I used the “P = Practical” to break it down a bit more. If you think of the four W’s – who, what, where, when and add a “how” you begin to practically think through each step.
Who? Just me
What? Stretch for 10-15 minutes
When? In the morning
Where? In the living room
How? This is where I used the “Pavlog’s dog” method – My “normal” routine was to get a cup of coffee and read the paper first thing each morning. My new SPAM “reward” system went like this: “While the coffee is brewing, you do your stretches, then you have a reward of sitting down with the coffee and paper.”
A = Achievable – Is this goal realistic, knowing yourself the way you do? I look at the elements – I’m a morning person, so it’s better to bring in a change in the a.m. I do like being rewarded for my “hard work,” so I think the delay of gratification will work for me. It’s important, however, for each person to do what works best for them.
M = Measurable – I needed to set a time frame in which to look back over my progress. Again, I look at what’s workable for me. I decided if I stretched 5 days a week, then took a break over the weekend, I’d be ready to do it again the following week.
I’m very happy to report that I’m walking without a limp! This didn’t happen overnight or even after a few weeks, but with the consistent use of SPAM goals, the activity began to change from “this is hard work” to “this feels good!”
You can do it too – just buy a can of SPAM, place it in a conspicuous place and start meeting your goals, one small and specific, practical, achievable and measurable step at a time!