Back in February I was participating in a training for local therapists on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (aka ACT). During the presentation, I had the thought "How is this working in my life? Have I identified my values, and taken the actions that will lead me to a rich and meaningful life?" In one particular domain, the answer was resoundingly no. Feeling a little disappointed (and hypocritical), I asked myself "What are you waiting for?"
The place I was struggling was in health. Every day I would wake up and commit to begin eating a more healthy diet and to incorporate physical activity into my daily routine. Every evening I would feel like a failure, knowing that I was doing everything but what I had committed to do.
So the following day I began the arduous process of change. The first step was to identify and get really clear about what it was I wanted. How did I want my life to be different? There were a few things that were glaringly obvious, the first was that I wanted to feel better, both physically and emotionally. And, I no longer wanted to feel like a hypocrite, but rather to demonstrate what was possible.
The next step was to identify the obstacles to change. Time, or lack of, seemed to be a major one. I looked at my calendar and decided that I needed to change my schedule to create an opening to incorporate exercise as a part of my daily routine. I also needed to change my eating and to select a plan that was doable. I decided to track calories and to stay within my calorie limit.
I knew what I wanted, I knew what I needed to do, I eliminated the obstacles and excuses... and the journey began. I am still not where I want to be, but I am making progress and that feels good. I expect and accept that the journey will be difficult and that I will encounter and carry lots of negative thoughts, emotions and setbacks along the way. I will not, however, allow the difficulty to get in the way of what is important to me. More importantly, I can speak with honesty when I say I've applied the ACT principles to my own life, and despite the difficulty, I am now living a richer more meaningful life.