“When you find yourself in the thickness of pursuing a goal or dream, stop only to rest. Momentum builds success.” -Suzy Kassem
It’s not about reaching a set goal. It’s about life change. It’s about savoring the journey. It’s about growth.
You are never neutral, you are going backwards or forwards. Whether it’s your marriage, your weight loss goals, or your career, stagnation doesn’t exist. It’s either forwards or backwards friend, there is no middle ground.
It’s not even about reaching a goal. If you are changing habits and working super hard to accomplish a goal, you will revert to the old you.
This concept is hard for some to crack understand. I get that because I’m below average, so it has taken me years to figure out. Just when I think I’ve arrived at a goal and I’m good to go, I slip. Thus has been my battle with weight loss most of my life.
Like with all bad habits it began with poor lifestyle choices. Three cans of mountain dew a day will not make a tubby kid less round. My college years were ripe with wonder and discovery, except that most of what I was discovering was that I loved Chinese food, I wouldn’t die right away from a sugar overdose, and that salads were nasty.
I ate about as well as you would expect a college student to eat that was off on his own 10 hours from home. I am less than proud to admit that throughout my four year stay at college, I gained over 50 pounds.
Long story short, it took a doctor telling me to lose weight for me to get my head on straight and my pant size down. It has been a long journey with tons of trials but now I am in the best shape of my life. As of this writing, my wife and I are beginning an even bolder challenge by taking on the Whole30 (30 days of only eating whole foods).
With weight loss and health at least, I realize that there is never a point at which we have arrived., right now I have more muscle and less fat than I’ve ever had. But the sad fact is that we are all in a state of decay and must fight to keep good health. We are forever fighting an uphill battle.
Life is a challenge and we must be ever vigilant if we are to stay on top of things. Mark Batterson (A well-known Christian author) says:
“We must stop living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death.”
Truer words I have never read. I get pumped up every time I think about the above quote. Most of us spend our lives seeking comfort and protection when the opposites of adventure and challenge are often what spurs our greatest growth.
If I hope to maintain my good health (which I do) I must keep working at it and stay ahead of the losing curve as much as possible. This applies not only to health and fitness but other aspects of life:
- Don’t put effort into your marriage? It will decline.
- Neglect investing in your kids early on? Good luck with them as teenagers.
- Name any skill in your arsenal. Unless it’s riding a bike, chances are it will take time to get back into it if you don’t practice.
As you can see this losing curve applies not only to weight loss and health, but any positive life direction we aim to take. If we aren’t at least inching forward, we are crashing backwards.
Growth Explosion 101
“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.” -Benjamin Franklin
Remaining neutral is not an option if we wish to grow. We are liable to make mistakes and fall back from time to time. We are only human. We are finite beings who don’t have time to do everything. Some things will falter as we pursue lofty goals and make our dreams come true.
The key to growth explosion towards whatever nagging and undone goal you have is to dive into the problem headfirst. You need to define what s stopping you and tackle that one thing. To do this, we will use the ladder approach.
The ladder approach involves identifying the next rung in the ladder and stepping onto it. You know the next step you should take. Don’t hesitate, take the leap and take that next step. This ladder is long and extends far beyond into the clouds. The clouds represent the end goal, but are often out of reach.
You can’t get so hung up on the success found at the first rung in the metaphorical ladder. If you stay at rung one, you will never experience the joy of getting closer to your goals. Make progress or you will fall.
What is the first step to take?
- Want to lose weight, what is the first thing you need to cut out from your life? (Milkshakes, sodas, candy bars) What do you need to add to your life to make it better? (Meditation, goal tracking, fitness).
- Want to bolster your marriage? Start with making your spouse a priority and schedule a date night.
- Want to quit your job? Make a plan to figure out what you need to do to make it happen.
Everyone has a unique answer to the above question as everyone is in their own unique situation. You might not have a firm idea how to get to the end of the goal, but I believe we all know the next step, even if that step is a small one.
The Middle Point: Momentum Dies
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” -Lao Tzu
The middle of the ladder, the point in which you are too far from the beginning to turn back, but close enough to the end to keep going. great job! Even if you are holding on for dear life, you at least took the first step. Hang on though, it gets harder.
I’ve often found that since life can be a pain most of the time, somewhere around the middle of the ladder (or halfway through your goal) it gets super difficult to keep going. It’s as if a malevolent overload put an extra two feet between ladder rung 8 and 9 just to spite us. Too often life is just like that, huh?
Momentum is easy enough to keep up in the beginning, but it gets harder as you go. Dropping the last ten pounds, finishing your degree, or writing the last few chapters in a book project are all examples of progress halting. if progress halts, the fall back begins.
It’s at this point it can be tempting to throw in the towel. Don’t stop now though! Growth explosion cannot happen if we quit before we get reach the goal. Remember, it’s not really about reaching the goal, but enjoying and learning from the journey along the way.
Once momentum dies use the following tricks to keep going:
- Reward yourself for getting to the next level. Have something to look forward to when you accomplish your goal.
- Journal throughout the process and refer to your own ups and downs to see you through.
- Celebrate your victories, even small ones. This post isn’t about wallowing in self pity about reaching nothing worthy of note. It’s about learning that the journey is more important to your overall growth than getting to the end.
- Take stock, take time to plan, and act. You are this goal to your next big win, just keep at it.
Don’t stop working, keeping climbing. You will soon see results, and will feel the change in your own life.
Empowered by the results, and emboldened by the progress you have made so far, keep on going!
Goal Accomplished, Now What?
“Become like the ear, keep on growing.” -Me
Yes! I lost the last 10 pounds!
Woo-hoo! I landed my dream job!
Hallelujah! I finished vacuuming my car! (Seriously guys, this one deserves the space here right? Ugh that’s an annoying task)
What do you do now after accomplishing your goal? Is this the end?
If you hope to maintain and continue to grow, it can’t be. Growth is not about reaching one endpoint, it’s about becoming like the ear and never being satisfied with our current situation. To grow we must continue to move forward and not look back, or else we risk falling off the wagon.
Failing to keep good habits is why most diets don’t work. All diets do is get you to a certain point, but don’t heal you of bad habits or give you the tools to keep the weight off.
To keep up the momentum, recognize that the journey is never over. Just because you found a new job that doesn’t mean you will love it forever. In fact, if you don’t keep working at your skills, your boss might send you packing without so much as a letter thanking you for your service.
Everyone should have goals, I would never argue against that. But if we stop after goal completion, we will have dropped back and will have to start all over again.
Success is not found in the completion of a goal, success is found by the change we make within during the journey. By working towards a goal we change for the better as goals require us to learn skills along the way. Nourish these newfound skills by keeping up the momentum.
Relish the win and be proud of your victory. But don’t become complacent and let your skills die off. Keep putting your nose to the grindstone and keep working at this thing we call life.
I know you got this.