Getting pretty good at making excuses

You say you’re going to do something.

You don’t do it

You say you’re going to do something.

You don’t do it.

At least you have the courtesy to say you’re not going to be able to make it but it doesn’t change the fact; you don’t do the thing you said you wanted to do.

At some point, I’m going to cut you loose.  At some point, you should cut me loose too because, if we’re going to keep having excellent and totally legitimate excuses to avoid making the changes in our lives we say we want so desperately, we’re never going to make progress towards the life we want so desperately.

We’re just going to be stuck.

Making more and more great and totally legitimate excuses while our dreams die in the deserts of tomorrow.

What you say. What you do.

There’s something interesting I discover when I think of the things I want versus the things I have; they don’t match up.

I want the six-pack.  I want the BQ.  I want to lose a little bit more weight – not a lot, but a little bit.   I want to be more confident.  I want to study.  I want to follow through.  I want.. I want.. I want..

But if you were to measure the desires I have in my life by what I actually have in my life, I don’t actually ‘want’ ANY of those things.

Not even close.

The decisions I’m making actually subvert the things I say I want.   I eat the wrong things.  I doubt myself and listen to the same tired negative script about myself that I’ve been listening to my whole life.   I absolutely LOATHE core work.   I don’t set asie time to study.

How can I possibly say I want these things, when I don’t affirm that desire with all the little decisions necessary to make those ‘dreams’ come true?

As far as weight gain, I discovered this youtube channel about people who have gained over 600 pounds.   They’re enormous.   And if you start watching these videos, a thread emerges; they ALL say, ‘I want to lose the weight’, but they ALL cheat on their prescribed diets.

It’s never been clearer.

We’re all lying.  (check out 2:25)

Don’t say it

There are studies that show, that when you broadcast your intentions to do something, you decrease the liklihood that you will ever get it done.   Worse – you’ll feel good (not) doing it.

I’m the prime suspect here.  The culprit.

Everyone knows “I am going to run Boston someday!”.   As a matter of fact, I can’t keep my mouth shut about ANYTHING I’m doing.

But I would really like to do better at keeping my nose to the grindstone and working in silence!

One brief moment

It flashes.

That brief moment when the path comes into view and you see it ..no, you glimpse it briefly, momentarily, so quickly.   The way forward.

The pull of fitness is that you want to be better.   You want to feel better and feel better about yourself.    That’s the hook.  It gets you in the door for the first day and maybe the first week, or even two weeks.  You show up, you do what they tell you, it sucks and you go home.

Eventually, you decide it’s too cold to go out today, so you make a deal with yourself that you’ll do the workout some other time, on your own.  Maybe you’ll do the workout twice to make up for it, right?   Then you eat something sweet and you get the hunger for more, so you keep eating and you just completely quit worrying about it.  “To hell with that shit – it wasn’t going to work anyway!”.

But not all of you.

Some of you pause, you reconsider, you laugh it off and go to skip the workout but you can’t.  You made a promise and you’re going to keep this one.  So, with a pout, you go and you workout.

The pain of success is greater than the pain of regret.

But it hasn’t even happened yet.  You just keep going, the doubts ringing in your ears the whole time telling you ‘it isn’t working’, ‘you should quit’, ‘why are you wasting your time?’.

And then.. it happens.   You work out, you sweat, you hurt, you push, you hang on and it happens.  The whole thing clicks into place for one.. sweet.. brief.. moment.   You get it.   It’s working.  You’re almost crying because you are earning your confidence, and the battle is hard, and it hurts sometimes but you are earning every single little gain and it’s yours.

The workouts don’t stop sucking, and dragging yourself to each one doesn’t stop being a tooth-and-nail battle, but you know now; the pain and inconvenience, the exhaustion and the doubts, it’s ALL worth it because that’s how you reach your goals.

 

It doesn’t matter where you start

Guys!  You might not be born with ‘leg-speed’ or a prodigious ability to run, or to breathe, or to process lactic acid.   You may not have come up in track shoes through junior high, high school, and collegiate athletics.

You may not even be young anymore.  You may not be starting with the perfect body; light-weight, taut, and ready to go.

Your mind might not be used to this.  You might not even know what it feels like to have a positive thought when negative thoughts are justified.  You might not be emotionally ready to tackle these kinds of workouts.  You may be in way over your head.

But IT DOESN’T MATTER WHERE YOU START!

The only thing that matters is THAT you start at all.. and that you finish.

One’s and Zero’s

When we want to do something, whether that’s ‘get in shape’, ‘eat right’, or ‘run really fast’, for all the complexity of making these decisions, when you boil it all down, it’s just one’s and zero’s.

Either, we do the thing, or we don’t do the thing.

The complexity comes in when we realize that ‘doing the thing’, is actually a whole string of lots of little ‘doing all the little things that will lead to doing the big thing’.   Sometimes, it can be broken down further into, ‘doing all the tiny little itty-bitty things that lead to doing all the little things that will eventually, someday, lead to doing the big thing’.

And, to make matters worse, we have to do all those things, consistently, all the time, everyday and everytime we’re faced with those specific decisions. For instance, if my big thing is to lose twenty pounds, then I have to eat better and stop eating whenever I feel hungry – yes.. I just said that.. ‘sometimes you have to just feel hungry’.   And when you start to do that, you might discover that you eat.. automatically, sometimes.   I mean seriously, without even thinking about it, you grab something and begin munching.   You realize you’re not really hungry, you’re bored or your operating out of a habit that is strangely obvious now.  And you can carry on and put that donut in your face (like you always do) or you can put it down and walk away.

THAT is the point of decision!   THAT is what I’m talking about when I say you have to do the little things that lead to the bigger things that lead to the big BIG goal.

Those decisions will really come at you, too.

Someone will bring in donuts or cake or brownies.  Are you going to eat them ‘this one time’ or not? You might feel anti-social – what a jerk! but you have to decide, are you going to pass on the donut or aren’t you?

 

Let them see you!

This is one of those videos I share, from time to time.   It’s my go-to motivation video because it has everything that running means to me, all packed into 5 minutes and 10 seconds.   Telling the story with Coldplay’s “Fix You” certainly doesn’t hurt, either.

Now that I’ve watched it for the 34th time, something occurred to me that I hadn’t considered before, and that is this; If Roger had refused to be photographed or filmed when he was very obese at the beginning of his journey, his story – for better or worse – would not have the impact it has now.

I mean, we’re all inspired by a good story, but a story with pictures is worth SO much more to our sometimes fickle senses.   Unavoidable truth, whatever you may think of it.

Maybe you’re afraid of the camera and maybe you’ve had this challenge before that says – ‘commit to change by recording yourself where you are now’.   So you commit, you take your ‘before’ pictures and you feel inspired for a little while, but then, the normalcy of your old life creeps back in and you feel betrayed, cheated, because you have these pictures reminding you that you didn’t do it.. you never made it.  You quit.

And then, you hide.   You carefully manage what photos get taken of you, at what angles and what gets seen – if you allow photos to be taken at all.    This is one way we give up.

May I offer that you can stand bravely in each shot, willfully being where you are and not focused on the present, but instead focusing on the path you are on?   Can I tell you that you are worthwhile, important, and that you matter – that you have something to offer the world that is meaningful and impactful and even life-changing for someone else?   Did you know that the most powerful thing you could ever share with someone is the commitment to loving yourself, being where you are now, and recognizing the beautiful path you are on to becoming your the hero of your own life?

That’s a story worth pictures – don’t you think?

Different thoughts

Get out of your comfort zone!  Quit.. being.. comfortable.  Quit settling.   Stop yourself from doing it the easy way and remember that making gains and getting the body, life, finances, anything.. of your dreams, has nothing to do with doing the same things you’ve always done!

You have to do something different to have different results.  

Who says you don’t deserve it?   Most likely, it’s just you.. YOU say it to yourself about yourself.  I say it about myself; I catch myself either explicitly thinking it or walking in the subtle shadow of that self-confidence -ommitted, and self-assurance -lacking.

We have to quit thinking that way.

That’s the old way of thinking and look where it’s got us!  And weirdly, thinking negatively about ourselves, our bodies, our personalities, our ‘good-enoughness’, ACTUALLY IS our current comfort zone.   Not because it feels good – it doesn’t – but because it’s so familiar.  We are in an abusive relationship with ourselves and we need to get the hell out of there.   It’s not good.  It isn’t good at all.   We settle for things that drag us further and further down, we shuffle around in life under the weight of feeling useless, worthless, unloved, and irrelevant.

NO!  No no no no NO!!   We are someone!  We exist!  We are not invisible!  We already have the mysterious ‘it’ that we have always wanted to have!

But we need a new way of thinking about ourselves.  We need to cut ourselves some slack.   It might feel weird to say nice things about yourself (for once!) and we will inevitably run into what Brene Brown calls the “Who do you think you are?” mentality – so we have to have an answer.   And it better be a good one.

Make that answer a defiant one.   Let’s roll up our sleeves, grit our teeth, and spit it back with vengeance; “I’ll tell you who I think I am…. ”

No, it won’t fit right at first.   we have to grow into it but eventually, it will fit.  We also don’t have to believe the lie that we might go too far the other way and become insufferable, self-important snobs – let’s trust ourselves on this one.   Oh! Don’t get me wrong – people will tell us we’re snobs or arrogant, that really happens, but sometimes that comes more from a place of feeling insecure next to the blazing fire of confidence. People will always feel uncomfortable next to those who have developed the strength to do things and be the people they always wanted to do and be.

Let’s trust ourselves to know the difference.  Let’s listen to our hearts.

The Positive side of Impatience

We like to think of Patience as a virtue.  It is, for the most part because it follows the comfortable path of erring on the side of caution.  When you slow down, you decrease your chances of missing something important.

Patience is self-control.  Patience is tenacity.

But when does Patience become a liability?   Just as we view people who are patient as calm, circumspect, rational, deliberate and even wise, we view the impatient as wreckless, fickle, distracted, maybe angry or intemperate.  The question then becomes, is there a place and time for being wreckless, indiscreet and negligent?

I think the answer is unequivocally – “Yes!”.   Unfortunately, we can only weigh the wisdom of such action on the effect it has had through retrospection – everything else is a toss-up.   If things don’t turn out well, we say ‘he was wreckless and foolish’, but if things do turn out well, we say ‘what wonderful insight and bravery!’.

But specifically to Patience and, even moreso, to Impatience, there is sometimes a cost to be exacted for waiting too long, thinking overmuch, and missing the window of opportunity that the fates have afforded an individual while basking in the rich warm glow of self-congratulating restraint.  The cost of failure in this case is equal in it’s intensity to ‘fools rushing in’.

The glories of impatience are regaled in history that might be embellished or fictional, but I will write them out, all the same.

The first, I gathered from the historical fiction of Patrick O’Brien, of “Master and Commander”-fame, in which Capt. Jack Aubrey retells the fabled story of Lord Admiral Horatio Nelson who, when facing the much superior French fleet off the coast of Trafalgar, was asked by his first mate what tactics should they employ to which he answered, ‘To hell with tactics!  Go straight at ’em!’.

“To hell with tactics!   Go straight at ’em!”

The second is from a phrase, a broken metaphor; “Don’t throw stones at every dog that barks!”.

Last, another military tale concerning the Battle of the Bulge in World War II where, as it goes, the German commander having surrounded the Allies completely, radios to elicit their surrender.   The American commander replied with only one word, “Nuts!”.   Flummoxed by the meaning of this response, the Germans hesitated until the Allies were able to be reinforced and subsequently lost their advantage completely.

So we see, direct action, wreckless and ferocious, can win the day.   Getting mired in the details of all the little things that must be done can prevent anything from being done at all.   And abandoning your advantages in a moment of distracted confusion can be costly.

 

But how does one decide in a given situation?  ‘Shall I wait until fortune finds me?’ or ‘Shall I sit silently by, waiting for the promises of others to be fulfilled in their due courses?’.

That is the question, isn’t it?  To this I will only point to Theodore Roosevelt’s “The Critic”

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Follow your heart and the strength of your convictions.   Recognize fear and ask yourself if it truly repudiates the attempt you are being offered to take.  Remember the creed of ultra-running, “Relentless forward progress’. Recognize the inner-critic and wear the willingness to fail, bleed, and eveb to be broken, with pride – it is yours to dare.. and it is yours to dare greatly!