Welcome to the new year.
By now you’re more than a week in and maybe 2018 already seems old hat.
Before the new year loses all its novelty, we at Preparing to Parent have a few new things for you.
First up: New Year’s Resolutions. They’re all the rage, but we’re not doing them.
Below you’ll find a simple (yet powerful) tool we find much more effective. (Seriously, it’s powerful: give it a test-drive.)
Now that we’ve gotten that new year’s cliché out of the way, let’s move on to other exciting new things.
- A few of you hope to be one.
- Some of you will soon become one.
- Several of you are one.
- All of you know one.
But when was the last time you took a fresh perspective on new motherhood, and realized what an extraordinarily unique—albeit it lamentably neglected—season it is?
This year we’ll begin to rectify that oversight.
Welcome to the new year and our New Mom Success Series.
This multi-part series is for all you expectant and brand-new moms. It also contains nuggets of wisdom for those of you who love and serve these women and for overall self-care, regardless of your season in life.
We’ll focus on two distinct areas:
Even though we’ve categorized them for convenience, they’re not really separate. We at P2P address whole-person wellness, where all the pieces are interrelated.
In the first segment, we’ve got some myth busting to do.
Modern nutritional advice for new moms contains a number of flaws—some of which will undoubtedly surprise you. We’ll debunk popular opinion and share what to do instead.
Then we’ll transition to the mental-emotional component, just as crucial as the physical in the grueling marathon of life.
Again, it will be geared toward new moms, but many of the principles are just as pertinent (and perhaps even more so!) for future, expectant, and seasoned moms as well as mission-minded men and women. After all, just as you can’t fuel a road race with cookie crumbs and nutrient-deficient snack packs, you can’t endure the uphill climbs of life with unrealistic expectations, negative self-talk, and a nonexistent support structure. We’ll help you up your mental-emotional game to achieve a sustainable groove.
It takes a certain mind-set to get there, though. So back to that simple (yet powerful) tool we mentioned…
Get laser-focused on your own priorities for the new year. It’s much easier to set a clear direction from the get-go than to course-correct many steps down the road when you realize you’re on a far different trail than you’d hoped.
So how do you start the race right?
The V4 Life Compass
Resolutions may be all the rage, but we at P2P have bigger visions than a wishful vow
- to eat a little better
- to exercise a little more
- to sleep a little longer
- to stress a little less
- to make family a little more fun, work a little less burdensome
- to laugh a little harder, love a little more, leave the world a little better
We want to see thriving generations get the best start possible. And that requires more than a little effort, more than a few tweaks, more than another resolution to tack onto the to-do list.
You don’t need another New Year’s Resolution. And neither do we.
Rather, we long to establish a solid foundation for life’s priorities. Priorities that keep in mind our well-being as well as that of future generations. Priorities that make decisions easier and more automatic, not dependent on an increasingly complex algorithm.
We at P2P don’t want to append a few new principles to an already lengthy list. (And we’re fairly confident you don’t want to either!)
We want to start at the root, the foundation, and build positive and holistic dietary and lifestyle rhythms that don’t burn out when February hits.
Can we drop the do-mores and do-betters?
Instead of resolution, we invite you into serious rumination.
What are your big hopes for yourself? Your family? Your community? At the end of the day, how do you want to feel? Who do you most want to become?
We mean it. Carve out time this week—more than a little bit—before you find yourself in the same old routines and ruts.
Close the door. Shut off distractions. Ask yourself specific questions. Listen for the gut reactions. Jot down your thoughts. Reflect on them.
Don’t know where to begin?
We’ve found our personalized V4 Life Compass incredibly effective for turbocharging our vision and our values. And it is these—vision and values—that undergird behavior more than the most eloquent resolutions, ultimately pointing you in the right direction and making goal-setting, and goal-achievement, possible.
Give this tool a test-drive!
V1 = Visualization
Sit comfortably, close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and picture yourself around this time next year. Celebrating the holidays, ringing in the new year.
- Where are you?
- Who are you with?
- What are you doing?
- How do you feel?
This last piece is crucial: focus on how you feel. Or rather, how your future self wants to feel. Observe any physical sensations, note your predominant mental state, allow any spontaneous emotions.
Fast-forward five years from today. Ask yourself the same questions. Who do you want to be? How do you want to feel?
Skip ahead twenty-five years. On the brink of a new year more than two decades from now, what satisfies the deepest longing of your older, wiser self?
Take your time. Sit quietly with whatever comes up. Be aware of all your senses. Notice any symbols or significant features.
This is a heart exercise. It’s about full-body imagination. You’re not methodically describing a one-, five-, or twenty-five-year plan. Instead, you’re creatively and intuitively stepping into the person you hope to become, feeling what he or she feels. It’s qualitative, experiential, perhaps even illogical.
Let your subconscious surprise you. Invite an unfiltered vision of your future self—and your future family, if others feature prominently in your mind’s eye.
V2 = Values
Next it’s time to assess your core values.
Most of us have a sense of our ideal values, often identified with questions like these:
- What do I treasure most in life?
- What do I fear losing most?
- What (do I hope) governs my thoughts, behaviors, actions?
- What cultural mores do I automatically accept?
- What traits do I admire in others?
- What qualities do I want to instill in my children?
- When or where am I happiest or most fulfilled?
But do our daily behaviors reflect these purported values, or do they hint at others? More specific questions can be revealing:
- How do I spend my time?
- How do I spend my money?
- How (with whom or what) do I fill my home?
- Where do I invest my energy?
- Where am I most disciplined?
- What do I tell myself repeatedly?
- What do I talk to others about most often?
- What do I think about most often?
- Who (or what) commands most of my attention?
- When do I perform my best?
- What’s my default when I have a few minutes to spare? A few hours?
Work logically through this exercise, identifying your personal values. Notice if your answers to the second set of questions reveal different values from the ones you thought you held.
Then reconcile what you’ve discovered here with the visualization you did earlier. Which values are most in line with the person you want to be, how you want to feel, five or twenty-five years from now?
We’re moving from the heart space into the head, a place that’s more rational but still in the qualitative realm. Identify those attributes that define your best self.
Then, still keeping your visualization in mind, select three to five values most meaningful to you today and likely in the future as well.
V3 = Variables
Now we get more into the nitty-gritty, the hands for our heart and head.
Consider the input (all those daily variables) that affect the output (whether you’re living your values and ultimately able to live your vision).
- personal care products
- sleep rhythms
- self-care routines
- stress-reduction techniques
- community service
- religious activities
- bad habits
- good habits
- thought patterns
- communication style
Are the variables that command most of your time and attention congruent with your values and your vision?
Don’t shirk discomfort. Plumb truth with pointed questions like these:
- Does the dinner you put on the table today fuel the lives you hope to see at the holiday table five years from now?
- Does your inner dialogue at the mirror in the morning champion the person you long to be in twenty-five years?
- If a stranger spent twenty-four hours with you—at work and in leisure, at home and online, with friends and with family—would they generate the same set of values that you did for yourself?
Naturally, the potential list of probing questions is endless. It depends on your unique personality, perspective, and position in the world, as well as the discoveries you already made in V1 and V2.
But the overarching point remains: what you do today, the variables in your life, will most assuredly inform the person you are tomorrow. Do your current variables, when plugged into that unforgiving equation, yield the result you desire?
Identify three to five variables that resonate with you. They might be the ones with the most impact, or the ones you have the most control over, or perhaps ones that most closely match each of the values you selected in V2. Whatever you choose, consider how you might tweak (or overhaul) them going forward to better align with your best and future self. Get specific.
V4 = Vocalization
Finally, it’s time to vocalize: to literally give voice to your discoveries in V1, V2, and V3.
It’s easy to dream (stay in your heart). Or to identify, plan, map out (move to your head). But to really translate to action (get those hands going) often requires breathing life, audibly, into your intentions.
One simple question, beloved by children the world over, can stoke the fire here. If you’ve spent any length of time with two- and three-year-olds, I’m sure you’re well acquainted with it.
We all need our why! Our 2018 variables won’t budge much without a clear motivation behind the intended change.
You’ve already put in much of the footwork in V1 and V2. Getting clear on where we’re headed and the qualities that drive us there helps establish our why.
But what happens if you hang around those curious kids a little while longer? Like the folks digging into the bag of potato chips in that old advertising campaign, they can’t stop at one.
Why? Why?! Why! WHY!
They want to know more than the superficial answer. They want to get to the root.
So do we. So do you.
If you’re going to live your priorities this year, you’d better know why.
Take each variable from V3, together with how it needs to change. Then ask why. Consult your values, invoke your vision. Then ask why three more times.
Now let’s check in with those endearingly yappy youngsters one more time. Are they content to let you ponder their whys silently, or perhaps scribble a hasty reminder in your day planner? No! They want to hear you articulate an answer!
There’s no skirting the issue: to make your motivation real you need to vocalize it.
That vocalization could take a number of forms, some more literal than others. Maybe you write out your actionable variables, together with their whys, and place the paper strategically so you can repeat them to yourself regularly. If you speak more naturally than you write, then maybe you hit record and talk through V1, V2, and V3, committing to replay the audio at regular intervals. Maybe you vocalize to yourself, or maybe you share with a close friend or an accountability partner.
Regardless of your method, the goal is the same: getting the best of yourself from your heart to your head to your hands, so you can actually do who you truly are and who you want to become.
This V4 tool, when taken in its totality, is about creating congruence. It’s about making the foundation—everything you do day after day, starting today—consistent with the edifice you hope to build.
When the structure of your life is complete, will all the pieces—all those bricks and two-by-fours—come together in a cohesive way?
Do your daily variables align with your values and inform your vision, making your life a legacy of what matters most?
This year we strive not to make resolutions but to live out our values so we can achieve our vision. It starts with assessing our variables, the day-to-day things that lay the foundation. And then it calls for vocalizing them, identifying motivation and inviting accountability.
We’re going to be sharing much more about our vision and our values, and the daily variables that get us there, in the coming months.
New year = new vision with clear direction + new series for new moms.
How about you? What’s new in your world? Were you surprised by your discoveries from the V4 Life Compass? Let us know!
Stacy Claxton, a Functional Diagnostic Nutrition® Practitioner, Ayurvedic Health Practitioner and Educator, and Perinatal Specialist, is one half of the dynamic duo behind Preparing to Parent, where she and her identical twin, Erin, are “growing families with purpose…on purpose.” This passionate sister pair loves caring for the tender and vulnerable bodies, minds, and souls of new beings and new moms and wielding words with impact on their holistic health blog. Join their family for free recipes and more.