I’ve got a new attitude

This morning, like every other morning, my alarm went off at 6 a.m. Since daylight saving time began, my morning wake up call happens before the sun rises. Some mornings, it feels like I’m waking up in the middle of the night.

I’ve been getting up at 6 a.m. for the past couple weeks to work out for 30 minutes, but I don’t have to be at work until 8:30. I lay in bed for a few minutes, and I found myself considering staying there for another hour.

What finally motivated me was a compromise. The thought of getting through my whole workout was overwhelming, but that didn’t mean I should skip it entirely. I made a bargain with myself — in exchange for getting up and making it to the gym, I’d shave 10 minutes off my normal workout.

My first thought this morning was that it had to be all or nothing. Either I’d get out of bed and make it through my whole workout, or skip it and stay in bed until 7 a.m. It didn’t occur to me right away that it’s okay to compromise, and it’s okay to do only what you can do right now.

As I pushed myself through my workout, I started thinking about how often the all or nothing mentality interferes with my diet and exercise — and my finances. When a surprise expense forces me to set aside money in the budget that normally goes to something else, it feels like my goals are shot for the month. If I can’t send the usual amount to savings and debt, then I’ve failed.

When I convince myself I’ve failed, then I start to lose the motivation to do it at all.

If I didn’t make it through a 30-minute workout this morning, then I failed. When I start thinking that way, why even push myself to get out of bed at all? If I’m failing either way, I might as well get an extra hour of sleep.

Instead of all or nothing, I’m going to start just giving my all. If a surprise expense reduces the amount that I can send to debt and savings, then I’m going to happily send what I can and praise myself for coming this far. If I can only make it through 20 minutes on the treadmill, then I’m going to be proud that I still got out of bed an hour early and made it to the gym.

Goals are important, and I’m going to continue setting them for myself and striving to reach them. But I think I’ve been missing the point for some time now. Instead of setting a hard and fast rule and beating myself up if I can’t reach it, I’m going to set broader goals and work to do a little more each time.

I’ve realized that my rigid goals are limiting me. If I’m just pushing myself to save a certain amount every month or make it through 30 minutes at the gym, then I’m less likely to do more than that.

Instead of setting a goal to work out for 30 minutes every single day, my new goal is to go to the gym every morning and work out as long as I can. Instead of saving the same amount every month, I’m going to look at my budget, set a number based on my expenses for the month, and make sure I’m saving as much as possible.

Hopefully, this new positive attitude will motivate me to exceed my previous goals. Most importantly, I won’t feel like a failure every time I hit a setback.