Degrees of Oomph
With the arrival of 2019, I've been reflecting on what kind of energy I want to bring into the new year. Who do I want to be and what do I want to focus on in the coming 365 days? In 2018, I focused on career and poured my heart and soul into working hard to create something new. But I also ended the year feeling slightly unbalanced and out of touch with my body. My pendulum swung wildly from working crazy hours every week to struggling with motivation and working only part-time. I got a never-ending cold and could feel that my hormones were out-of-whack. My neck and shoulders felt tight and I was craving sweets. Not really a strong finish, I'd say.
In 2019 I want to focus on creating a steadier lifestyle for myself – working and playing evenly throughout the year instead of diving between spectrums. I also want to take better care of my body and mind by stretching often and incorporating more cardio into my week, not to mention meditating, writing, and cooking new things.
This left me thinking – how committed am I to my resolutions? Of the lengthy list of objectives above, which ones am I willing to push hard and make happen?
Asking myself these questions reminded me of a client I'd had awhile back who was struggling to follow through with the goals we'd set each week. If the smallest obstacle got in their way it was game over. After noticing the pattern, we worked on becoming more intentional when drafting their to-do list, but also identified one goal every week that the client would be willing to fight for and prioritize even if it wasn't easy. This practice slowly developed into a measurement system that we called their “Degree of Oomph.”
Degrees of Oomf can be ranked from 1-10 with one meaning the smallest of factors could get in your way and you would bail, and ten meaning that hell and high water could cross your path and you'd still march forward. For instance, let’s say I wake up and want to go on a hike, but there’s a 10% chance of rain at 11 am. If I cancel the hike, that would be a fairly low Degree of Oomph – say a 2. Now let's say it's actively raining, my car battery is dead, and due to the late start I’m barely going to make it back in time for work. But, instead of abandoning ship, I grab my raincoat, coordinate a carpool, and hustle down the trail. Even when the number of excuses I could have used piled up, I decided to stick to my plan. That would be a much higher Degree of Oomf – maybe an 8.
The point is not that we should get outside in every hurricane. The point is that every time we set a goal we should ask ourselves about our Degree of Oomph. How much hardship are we willing to endure to create our desired outcome? Is this a “one good excuse and I'm out” type of goal? Or is this a “with every barrier there is a potential solution” type of goal? We get to choose. Ideally, we stop making measly excuses for things we really want or finding ourselves fighting hard for something that isn't important to us.
Oftentimes, I think we allow societal pressure to guide our Degree of Oomph, especially regarding what we're willing to do to excel in the workplace versus what we'll do to take care of our bodies and minds. We'll skip doctor's appointments to make it to a meeting on time, but cancel our camping trip because we have errands. We'll sit in hours of traffic to get to work, but miss a yoga class because it's across town. We'll sit through conflict-resolution courses that our boss insists on, but tell our partners we don't have time for counseling. Too often we find solutions when it comes to work and make excuses when it comes to health and happiness.
Financial security and career are obviously important tenets of our lives and I'm not advocating that we should abandon our grit in the workplace in order to play outside. But what if we brought the same problem-solving work ethic we have in our careers to ourselves? And if our Degree of Oomph was slightly higher for one or two things, we might start seeing results around goals we've wanted for a long time.
As for me, I'm still deciding on what will receive my highest Degree of Oomph this year. For now I'm being more intentional with my work schedule and have prioritized healthy eating for the month of January. Most importantly, I'm checking in regularly with myself and noticing before I make excuses that are out of laziness or upside down priorities. Oomph is high, so bring it on, 2019.