I’m all excited about fresh starts and beginnings. However when it gets too hard, or when the shiny newness has worn off, I’m just left with the need for routine and consistency. These things seem boring and lifeless. It’s fun to start something new, to rip open the plastic wrap of a new journal. When Bridget Jones was given a new diary it gave her the permission to start again with hope and expectancy. When I set up an intention to journal every day, it becomes tiresome. My errors and sloppy writing seeps through the pages into my mind. I miss several days of journaling and before I know it, there are more consecutive days of not journaling than of journaling. Then I remember I’m not perfect. I’m sitting here after eating a handful of party mix lollies for breakfast, knowing that I reach that understanding plenty of other times. Rather than quitting sugar, I quit diets. Why is it that I can have so much intention and motivation on week one day one, yet it all flies out the window by week one day two and a half? Some people motivate themselves to keep going by recognising that each day is a chance for a new beginning. I’m glad that it works for them. But it generally doesn’t for me.
A new look with open eyes; a second chance
Yet this wonderful thing happened the other day in the waiting room at the doctors. My doctor’s waiting room is on the second floor and has this hallway that loops around with all the doorways running off it. Well that wasn’t the only thing running that day. My doctor was running late, as you’d expect and in that time my daughter found it fun running the loop faster and faster, not needing to turn back to check that I was yelling after her. So I grabbed her up to me and held her, until she squirmed enough for me to release her. This little game played out twice. By the third time I picked her up and she tried to be released from my clutches, as calmly as I could I said, “Did you want to try again?”. She nodded. I repeated the rules that she needed to stay close to Mum and Dad and that she could not run away.
For her I don’t know what happened. But for me, the phrase, “Did you want to try again?” gave some sort of hope. Part of me knew she was very able to run away again. But part of me recognised there was a chance for a change in behaviour this time. As I then watched her spin on the spot, close to her dad and me, I was spun out that she chose to comply.
Lessons learned in the waiting room
I feel that there were a few lessons to be learned in that waiting room, for me and for her. When I am on the precipice of wanting to quit something, next time I plan to whisper through my mind, “Did you want to try again?”. In fear and fatigue the answer may be a strong “no”. But wherever there is a “yes”, albeit a quiet one, it gives my mind the possibility to have the willingness to try again. Maybe I’m daydreaming, but I feel that when my daughter looked up and nodded for another chance, she was ready to try again and differently this time. There was hope.
They say the definition of insanity is repeating the same mistakes over and over again and expecting different results. Perhaps a secondary definition for insanity is repeating a good thing once or twice and expecting to build results. There is some truth to the “practice makes perfect” phrase. Routine, whilst it’s boring and tedious, can actually be a good thing repeated to build great things. Maybe I quit because there are annoying, frustrating and “bad” things that corrupt the good things I’m trying to achieve and build upon. Or even I quit because the things I half commit to are actually hard work and doing them consistently is a challenge. In these instances there is no hope.
Sure, quitting the diet on day two with lollies in the mouth may seem okay for that moment. But it’s moments like that you don’t need Minties. Rather in those times where there is a choice, big or small, I need to look at a bigger picture with hope. The big picture is hope, it’s gotta be. That’s when it’s time to get back to the vision and the missions for life. It’s not just about diets, it’s about health in spirituality, health emotionally, health mentally, health relationally, health occupationally. The choices I make now impact future outcomes. When I decide to quit my progress due to wanting to take the easier route, it will potentially only delay and expand the problem later.
Hope for the soul
While our bodies and minds at times want to choose the easy option, maybe easy is not what our hearts and souls need. When there is something of a challenge to our days, which is further facilitated with kids, it has potential to grow our heart and soul. I’m probably still going to eat the rest of the lollies in the bag later on. But when I can I’m going to give myself the hope that there is room for having another chance and recommitting to my intentions. I don’t want to be short sighted. Fresh starts can happen when your mind allows it. The mind will be flexible to allow it when there is enough perspective and hope for what that future could be. In some not too distant future, I’d love to start an article with, “I have a tendency to try again…”
Elizabeth is a Mum to Grace, step-mum to Will, wife to Ricky. She is very changeable. Sometimes she'll identify herself as a social worker, other times as a writer or even as a Christian. She loves her town of Dubbo, New South Wales. Elizabeth studied a Bachelor of Social Work at Charles Sturt University.