Striking the set in theater is the easy part—after working so hard on building it, taking it all down feels almost effortless. What took several days to construct only takes hours to demo.
That’s a pretty consistent reality across the board, isn’t it?
Sledgehammering a wall as the renovation process begins is relatively mindless (and quite cathartic, too!) compared to the painstaking hours and effort it will take to build the new creation.
Tearing down: easy. Building up: hard.
It’s that way with lifestyle choices, too. I’ve been faithfully doing yoga in the morning for weeks now. It took me a long time to be able to follow the she-devil—I mean instructor’s—directions on the DVD, but eventually I could do sequences that I wasn’t able to in the beginning without whimpering in child’s pose for a minute or two.
Last week I had to deviate from my schedule for a few days and skip yoga, and when I resumed, damned if I wasn’t right back to feeling like a mutant pretzel. My stamina had apparently boarded a bus down to Zihuatenejo to join Andy and Red.
It takes weeks and months to build muscle…but only days for the flab to return.
In a variation of Newton’s First Law of Motion, an object at rest not only tends to stay at rest, it likes rest. Napping is good. Please don’t bother the object. She’s had a long day.
For me, getting derailed from something I want to accomplish or better myself in is my default. I could list countless examples of my beginning some goal and then life interfering to knock me off track. Writing, exercise, projects, weight loss, new schedules wherein I will be able to conquer the world…I totally aspire to discipline myself, but it doesn’t take much for entropy to consume my intentions.
It’s so much easier to fall than rise. It’s so much easier to fail than succeed—especially when I am only accountable to myself.
When there is an outside force or framework that needs me to change…it’s much more likely to happen. Start a new job that requires getting up earlier than I have been? Up and at ‘em! Decide for myself that getting up an hour earlier will enable me to get that workout in? My, but that snooze button is so easy to hit 17 times.
Accountability and structure are key.
It’s like the old school mercury thermometers—when the mercury is contained within the glass, it does its job well, but crack it open and free it from its framework, and the mercury breaks into a kajillion little blobs running all over the place. (That’s what it feels like inside my head most days.)
Part of the reason I’ve been so much better with my yoga practice is that my husband’s schedule changed, and I decided mine was going to, too. And…so far, I am kicking some inertia ass because of it.
Knowing that I am so easy to derail or distract (look! a puppy!) gives me a better shot at success in my planning. I now know myself well enough that any dramatic change will flounder, but a sneakier one won’t.
Years ago, I visited a friend of mine whom I hadn’t seen in a few years. She was wonderfully fit looking from the last time I saw her, and I asked her what her “secret” was. She said, “I started going to the gym once a week.” I looked at her rather quizzically because I knew her earlier body, and it seemed like what she had achieved would take more than a weekly gym visit, so I asked her to tell me more. She said that what she did was set her first bar low—go to the gym once a week—and once she kept to that, well, then she could ask a little more of herself…and a little more…and a little more.
Baby steps may be small, but they still lead somewhere.
Sadly, while I remember her story well, I haven’t really integrated it into my life…though I am working on that now.
The other key for me to be better at staying on track is recognizing that getting derailed doesn’t mean it has to be the end of the trip. If I practically expect to deviate from my goal because…well, I’m me…then I can prepare to get right back on track. After all, this metaphorical track isn’t Metra, where a derailing is a major accident. There’s no reason why I simply can’t resume in the direction I was headed and get myself back on track.
No matter what, the truth is that—at least for me, but I suspect for most of the human race—change is hard…especially when the effort required isn’t exactly fun. (Ask me if I would be able to make sure I ate a KitKat every day, and I think I might succeed.)
But it is necessary. Stagnation is not acceptable. And knowing the obstacles for what they are just might help me overcome them. Or you.
If you want to.
Because it really is all up to you.
And it’s okay if you get derailed here and there…because you will…life will pull you off course time and again.
And then get moving again.
All photos are my own.
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