By Robert Chute
Originally published in Massage & Bodywork magazine, January/February 2009.
You’re thinking about 2009. It’s rich with possibility because this is the year you’ll fire up your practice, get things organized, and become the massage therapist you were meant to be. It’s a fresh start … except chances are it isn’t a fresh start and you won’t make those dreams come true without a plan and some effort. The resolutions you make for 2009 are probably the same ones you made for 2008, 2007, and so on. So how do you change your track record?
Our challenge is the misconception that New Year’s resolutions are one-time events, as if we can set a course and not pay attention to the wind and currents of our lives. For instance, diet resolutions aren’t made on an empty stomach. You decide to lose the excess weight once you’re stuffed with a holiday feast. Hungry, tired, and without a plan for dinner, those resolutions evaporate and you order pizza. Again.
To make change happen you’re going to need to do some research and prepare a plan that’s achievable. What distinguishes a wish from a goal is your plan.
One New Year’s Day I found a stray note that had blown on to my deck. It read: “Toby will win the lottery this year and live happily ever after.” Besides buying a ticket, someone didn’t have much of an action plan. His scrawl looked kind of sad in the morning light of January 1.
First, dream a little. Think about what you want to change. More clients? Hiring help? Choosing a new location or redecorating your space? Are you going to save up for a bodywork course in Bali this year? What do you really want? Go ahead. I’ll wait.
Got them? Write your goals down. (Stick with me. This won’t take long and it’s your life we’re talking about here.) Prioritize them. If you have 10 things you want to change you can save the bottom seven for later. No one gets to the bottom of a to-do list and the top three goals will take your energy and attention if they’re at all challenging.
Change is difficult. If it wasn’t, you wouldn’t have read this far. Draw up a plan for number one. Pick a completion date. Remember: plan the work, work your plan. There’s nothing to it but to do it.
Post your goals in a visible spot. Announce your lofty intentions to your loved ones. Tell someone who’s going to help keep you on track. No lame excuses. Put yourself out there. Consider enlisting a buddy who shares your goals and set up a friendly competition with money, massages, or whatever on the line.
Now the key you’ve been looking for: don’t set sail for your destination without any expectation of rough weather or course corrections along the way. All that enthusiasm you’ve got right now for your resolutions must be revisited daily, sometimes hourly. Don’t wait until next January 1, or next Monday, or for your birthday. The process is now and it is ongoing. Each small choice you make carries you forward in your journey.