“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” – Lao Tzu
Establishing goals and hitting those goals are excellent things, and something that we should all do more of as we strive to improve and have a meaningful life. But if you’re only jumping from goal to goal with a lot of dead space in between then you’re missing a lot of enjoyment and some color that you should be embracing as well.
How many of us have set a goal, be it learning to play a song on an instrument, running a 5k or losing weight, hit that goal and have that short term satisfaction quickly evaporate into the “what now” question? I think that reason is a big part of the back sliding that occurs. It’s a big build up for a short term mental payoff. Unless you are willing to constantly set bigger and bigger goals, this approach is difficult to maintain. However, if you set your mind to enjoy the process and not the result, you’ll find that not only is this improvement sustainable, it’s a lot more enjoyable.
Learning a new skill, losing weight, getting a degree, raising a child, improving your marriage, getting stronger…these all take dedicated effort and to some degree some grinding. Don’t just suffer through this time though, embrace the small incremental gains that you see on a daily or weekly basis. Your goal may be to bench 200 lbs, so enjoy those small 2.5# incremental gains and realize they are steps along the path. Actually acomplishing the goal should be the exclamation point at the end of the sentence and not the sentence itself.
In establishing the process, break it down into small bite sized pieces, mini-goals you are shooting for. I didn’t learn any swim stroke work until I was an adult and decided I wanted to be competitive in triathlons. I learned to swim from Terry Laughlin’s Total Immersion book. It was incredibly boring, breaking down things first to balance in the water, then slowly adding small arm movements and stroke aspects to that building block. Each step along the path though I noticed improvement, especially compared to those who simply slogged poorly through the water in an attempt to work harder, not smarter or with better technique. I eventually was able to swim 2.4 miles in the uppper side in the middle of the pack of a triathlon which was something that a couple of years before would have seemed impossible. In finishing that race, it was good to be completed, but the hours of training and being outside and feeling myself get stronger was more satisfying to me.
So as you set up goals, embrace those two pounds lost and what it took to get there. Make healthy eating and exercise, whatever that may mean to you, a natural part of your life. You shouldn’t be on a “diet” per se, but eat nutrient dense food with minimal processed shit. If you want to speak a language, start small with CDs (maybe from the library), then maybe take a class at the local college. Using your new language skills in travel should be the bonus and not the goal… the goal is small steps of self improvement. Don’t fall into the trap of only feeling good about yourself in the short window of hitting a goal, feel good about each step on your journey.
As a note here, we’re heading on vacation and going off the grid for a week. I’ll set a few random posts up to hit while I’m gone. Dog days of summer here!