The New Year. What a sight for sore eyes.
If you’re reading this, I bet that last year was hard, maybe even brutal at times.
At the start of it you undoubtedly thought, “For sure, this will be the year I get pregnant…stay pregnant…become a mom.” Maybe you’ve been saying that for several years in a row now.
But there’s just something about this time of year that awakens possibility. Renews energy and tempts us to muster up a fresh hope.
But hope sure can feel dangerous, right?
Every year since trying to conceive, you’ve had the same resolution.
“I am going to do ________, ________, and ________, and I’ll finally reach my goal of having a baby.”
And here you are again. Beat down and weary. Still without the family you long to create. Another year failed.
After a while, this process of having a goal, believing it will happen, trying your hardest, and still failing, will cause you to lose hope and want give up altogether.
Scott Adams explains this concept in his excellent book, How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big
Existing in a state of continuous failure…feel familiar?
So, what’s the alternative?
A systems thinking approach
Scott Adams defines a goal as a specific objective that you can either achieve or don’t sometime in the future.
He teaches that a system is something you do on a regular basis that increases your odds of happiness, health, growth, etc. in the long run.
Here’s how this powerful principle applies in the world of infertility:
GOAL: I’m going to become and stay pregnant this year.
SYSTEM: I’m going to implement daily practices to help me feel as healthy as possible emotionally, physically, socially and maritally as I navigate this crisis.
By taking the systems approach you ALWAYS WIN by:
- Simply feeling better in all areas
- Developing the strength needed to persevere in the marathon that is infertility
- Building the resilience to handle any outcome
- Mastering powerful skills that translate to other contexts and seasons of life
Understandably so, many of my clients show up in my office with goals:
- I need to loose weight to get pregnant.
- I need to reduce my stress/depression/anxiety so I can get pregnant.
- We need to learn to communicate to we can get on the same page about which fertility treatment to do next.
I usually get funny looks when I say that the primary goal in the work I do is not focused on getting pregnant.
My approach is to teach you a system that will result in the reduction of stress, depression, anxiety, marital strain, weight, etc. – because you deserve to feel better and gain control of your emotions, body, and relationships.
Yes, there’s loads of research that show when a woman lowers her level of emotional distress, and/or when she’s at an optimal weight, that her fertility success rates increase significantly.
If by making progress in these areas, you also optimize your fertility and it results in parenthood, then HALLELUJAH!!
But no one can make you that guarantee. Gosh, I wish I could.
However, what I can guarantee is that if you lose weight only for your upcoming IVF cycle, and you don’t get pregnant, you will lose all motivation to continue with healthy eating. You worked your ass off, literally, but it didn’t make a difference in the outcome this time. So why even try at all?
That’s the danger of the goal-oriented approach, and the implications are endless.
I want you to develop skills that serve you forever - during infertility, pregnancy, parenthood, child-free living and beyond. I want to you to use a system that will not fail you, no matter the outcome.
How to begin building your NO-FAIL systems approach?
1. Imagine where you would like to see personal growth this year.
Start broad…For example, do you want to feel stronger, calmer, happier, healthier, more connected to friends, family or your spouse? See change in your relationships, work-life, self-concept, body, emotions?
2. Write down the one area of focus that stands out the most.
This can be the area that causes you the most pain, feels most out of control, or simply feels easiest to tackle first.
3. Next, write down any and all actions you could take, that if done consistently, would increase the odds of you achieving growth in this area.
This step might require some research or a session with a therapist to help you compile all the different small ways you can create change in your area of focus. For example, if you want to feel calmer and more in control of your anxiety, your list might include:
Learn to say no, meditate, practice yoga or another type of exercise, learn to calm down my body with my breath, reduce caffeine, challenge my negative thoughts, plan more fun activities, see a therapist…
4. Pick out ONLY ONE action on your list that seems easy to implement consistently, learn how to do it if it it’s a new skill, and then get started!
It’s important start small so you can have an easy win. If you picked meditate 20 minutes a day, start with 5 minutes and increase weekly.
5. When that one action becomes part of your lifestyle, either go back to #1 and start with a new area of focus or continue with same focus and a new action.
Over the next few months, I’ll be writing a series on this systems approach starting with "How to go Beyond Surviving Infertility & Actually Thrive"
You can choose to only focus on the goal of parenthood this year, existing in the state of perpetual failure until that goal is fixed. Or you can learn to master the art of caring for yourself - developing health, strength, and wholeness in the midst of the pain.
I’m so excited to be able to share simple, powerful, and effective tools that will help you make this year a success, no matter what.
I hope you’ll join me on social media and subscribe to the blog to get notified when new posts go live.
Need a more personalized, deeper level of support? Don't hesitate to reach out. I would love to work with you one-on-one!