I ran into a friend at the cafeteria salad bar after the holidays. We sat down to catch up, and she began to tell me how she had stopped eating meat. I was curious about how she was making the change, so I was eager to hear her plans for 2013. Instead, the next half hour was filled with one horror story after the other.
Maybe it’s the media’s emphasis every January on “new year, new you”, but I thought I might hear glowing reports about how amazing she felt. I’ve known several people to switch up their diet, and usually I hear things like, “Yeah – I still enjoy a cheeseburger every once in a while, but I just can’t eat that heavy all the time.” Or, “I find my body processes better if I don’t eat so much dairy. I seem to have more energy.” Instead, our conversation went something like this:
- I’ve felt for a long time that I should do this, but I really, really miss meat. My husband doesn’t seem to understand how much I’m giving up.
- I tried a black bean burger the other day, but it just wasn’t the same. I don’t know how people eat that stuff.
- I’m going to have to learn to cook all over again. This is going to be so hard!
As we walked to the elevators, I asked, “Umm…are you sure you even want to do this?”, and thankfully we both ended up laughing. Have you ever been like my friend? You receive a spark of an idea, have all the right intentions, and then you’re instantly off and running in whatever you think is the best direction. But somehow, you’re miserable. You forgot to listen for intuitive guidance about not only what is best for you, but the right timing. I’m not saying she should have gone into hibernation waiting for the perfect moment, but she could have slept on her decision to see what other information arrived.
Here are a few illustrations. Possibly she needed to mix things up by trying new fruits and vegetables, and that would have been enough to get started. Or maybe she could have looked at her diet over time, and either eating less red meat or more fish would have been a natural progression rather than a squealing, hard left turn where she dropped all meat products overnight. And somehow she forgot to give herself credit for all the things that were going well – things like acknowledging how little processed food she eats and how often she works out every week.
It’s not too early to take a second look at those New Year goals or resolutions you’ve started. Before you rush to extremes, think about integrating a manageable change or two. They may not be as exciting as having an extreme makeover, but whether you’re working on finances or food this year, strive for sustainability. As author Marc Allen says, “There’s so much in all our lives that is working wonderfully. It’s miraculous, mysterious and beautiful.”