Updated: Aug 6
I've written about this before in multiple different ways. The idea that "finding your why" for a given effort is the key to sustaining that effort. That 'goals' based on attainment are usually short lived, but goals based on, and embedded in, a process of progress and improvement usually sustain much more effort and for much much longer periods, in time leading to better outcomes. At the start of lock down I'd set myself a goal. To reach 100 sit ups and 100 press ups a day. I kept a chart, and started off. The first week I managed 75. Not 75 a day. 75 for the whole week. I added some weights and specific bo staff spins and soon the number crept up. Week 3 saw me at 125 press ups for the week and 150 sit ups. Week four, 165 and 130. So in week five I decided to train twice a day, adding in a few other things for variation.
This was all done without fan fair or anouncment, and the why was simple. Time. Being in the house in lock down I had endless time and opportunity to deal with my (lack of) fitness, and a complete lack of excuses. Like so many others I had to work on my University course from home, therefore the creation of routine was an immediate need. Added to which, my weight had again become a problem for mobility, and age was taking a toll on my knees and legs. Long ago I had realised that being physically healthy and "fit" results in both a better mood and better academic thinking. So being disciplined & healthy was, in this mindset, going make me a better more productive thinker and writer, leading perhaps to a better MSc dissertation. By week 12 I was up to 650 press ups and 400 sit ups. Then something odd occurred. A Facebook challenge popped up. "25 press-ups a day for 25 days, film it post online and nominate someone else".. all to raise awareness of PTSD and mental health etc. Ok thinks I, no problem I'm doing this any ways. Guess what happened? After the first 3 videos I stopped making them. Not only that I went from religiously doing the press-ups and sits ups to not bothering. My Bo staff had broken at this point so arms weren't as conditioned as prior. (meaning press ups hurt) Week 13 new Bo staff and 400/200. Week 14? just 320 press-ups. Bo staff sessions were ok but I was loosing focus. Last week, week 15... 50 sit ups. nothing else. Yet this morning (week 16) I was up... bo staff in the garden (I finished at 0550.. great sunrise) and 30 press-ups on the bars out side for change. All the while I was revisiting some of the motivation stuff I'd listened to years ago from the likes of Tony Robbins and other "performance coaches" It occurred to me that the reason why I had stopped training was almost the same reason I had started in the first place. Time. Training became about making the videos and that took time. Posting them online and nominating a few friends didn't garner results , because guess what? They didn't want to do it. As a result the goal of raising awareness was not being met. So I gave up on the videos. Perceived failure gradually eats away at your effort, and because the goal (outcome) of training had been subtly shifted away from my original one, the effort ebbed away. Until this morning. Time will pass whether you use it or not. If you believe something is (literally) a pointless exercise then it will likely become pointless. And if you allow that belief to take hold then inevitably any sane person will ask that very dangerous question: "why bother?" A better question however is "why not bother?"
Dissatisfaction with circumstance and situation is one of the best drivers for change. I am dissatisfied with my lack of attainment of my initial original goal yet grateful for the lesson. Which is simple. Don't let other people's agendas subvert your goals and who you are. Even if their goal is a worthy one, it is not yours. To know your self, not for reward, or the external goals of others, but for your own sake. That shit will keep you going for years. Remember that your efforts are moving you towards where you wanna go in life. Not where others might wish to steer you, by means of their vision of who you are. Set your goal. Plan your path, and then own it. Because if you don't, you can sure as hell bet that others, whether well meaning or otherwise, will try and derail or distract you from it.
"Be independent of the good opinion [and intentions] of others"
So I'm back to building up to my goal of 100 press ups and 100 sit ups a day. Forgive me if I don't tell you how its going, until it's done.
Sarah@stubbornlyoptimistic.me Some Links: