On almost a daily basis, as Sandwiched Boomers, you are bombarded by a variety of tasks involving aging parents and growing children. In addition, you’re balancing a myriad of responsibilities at home with those that confront you at work. And that’s without mentioning your ongoing commitment to staying healthy, losing weight and exercising regularly. Just thinking about your hectic lifestyle can stop you in your tracks. If you find yourself in this predicament and are feeling the time crunch, follow these guidelines:
1. Take a deep breath and let go of negative thoughts about yourself in relation to getting stuff done. Actively dispute the notion that you are lazy, apathetic or can’t get a handle on the process. Choose a simple affirmation or a mantra that rings true for you – such as yes I can – and repeat it often, out loud and with conviction. Give yourself an emotional break and watch what happens.
2. Make a start, any start. Buy a journal or borrow one of the notebooks your son isn’t using and do your homework. Write out some specific goals and break them down into smaller, more manageable short term objectives. Reflect on their purpose and what that means to you. Consider the character strengths and personal resources you have that will help you achieve your goals.
3. Create weekly or even daily to-do lists. For example, if a regular exercise program is your ultimate goal, begin by penciling in a 20 minute walk twice a week after carpool or during your lunch hour. Organization and planning may sound like dirty words. But the more you concretize what you plan to do, the greater the chances are that you’ll follow through with your intentions.
4. Lower your expectations – and, for sure, don’t expect anything near perfection. Actually, there is no perfection, so relax. Start out small and accept baby steps. If Aunt Bess has moved into the nursing home across town, your only choices aren’t either to go daily or not at all. Pile the kids in the car one Sunday a month and enjoy an hour in the park with her and your family.
5. Give up the pleasure principle – that is, having exactly what you want when you want it. Next time you eat out, instead of finishing up with apple pie a la mode, visualize a thinner you in that little black dress at your upcoming 30th high school reunion. Delaying immediate gratification for future goals will lead to your feeling better about yourself and will nourish you way beyond your last bite of dessert.
6. Make a public commitment to family members who want to see you succeed. By telling others about your intentions, you create a stronger reality that will keep you feeling motivated. Engage friends in your pursuit of getting into better shape – talk with one of the guys at work and make a pledge to hit the gym together three times a week.
7. Notice and savor your newfound power. Positive reinforcement is a major tenet of any behavior modification program. So reward yourself for a job well done – choose an activity that nurtures you, like a massage or a trip to the spa. This sort of attitude will sustain you as well as promote greater self care – and as your goals take shape, you’ll shape up.
Take it slow and easy. With so much on your plate, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed and not know where to begin. If some days you make plans and can’t follow through, don’t let frustration sap your enthusiasm. Remember all those New Year’s resolutions you made when you were younger and didn’t know better? And think about the inertia that followed the failure of your short-lived goals. Don’t fall victim to that kind of logic. Look well beyond the present moment – and resolve that you are making progress, that you are getting closer to your goals and that every day is a new opportunity.
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