I’ve been hammering away at commitment. Telling you not to wait for inspiration or motivation, but to commit and to just show up. One of our problems is that we’re an instant gratification society, so let me add this; once you show up, relax, go with it, it will come.
What do I mean by that?
Go back to my complaint that we’re a culture addicted to instant gratification. We want results, and we want them NOW. Push the button, pull the lever, take the pill, get the result.
One of the reasons New Year’s Resolutions fail is because we start with inspiration, but inspiration is fleeting, lightning in a bottle. We depend on motivation to keep us going, but motivation runs into the rocks and shoals; work, and kids, and spouses, and family, and friends, and all the time pressures of life. Inspiration and motivation disappear pretty quickly in the absence of results. We set a goal, we expect results and when we don’t get them, we quit.
Goals are for suckers, winners have systems.
Many years ago I had a boss who lost 130 lbs, which he said took almost three years. That’s about 1 pound per week. Now, put yourself in his position. You weigh 380, and your doctor has told you that, if you want to see your 40th birthday, you have to lose weight. A lot of weight. You’ve got your motivation, but for healthy weight loss, you’re only going to drop 1 lb a week.
After a month, have you seen any results? Has losing three or four pounds made any visible difference? How about two months? Three? When the problem is that large, can your inspiration and motivation last until you can actually see the results?
So you need a system. Something that will slowly, steadily fix the problem as you apply it. You have to show up, but then comes the hard part; you have to wait, and, like Inigo Montoya, we hate waiting.
So we need to learn patience, but where? Where in our busy, technological, instant gratification society do we learn patience? Well, there are a few places. Take up a hobby. A friend of mine is a railroad modeller. I thought I had patience for model building until I saw him in “action.”
My mother is a painter, I’ll see her at the same canvas, on and off, for weeks or months.
Take up a martial art. Most styles have a minimum of 3 years to black belt.
Try Tai Chi. When I was in China I took up Tai Chi. Learning the first move, of the first set, took three days.
Or, you could learn patience the way I finally, truly learned patience (it wasn’t Tai Chi); yoga.
When you start a yoga practice, you learn pretty quick that not much of what you know about exercise matters. So if, for instance, you used to play “Juniors,” hockey at a level that might get you drafted into the NHL, you could find out that men your father’s age can cruise through a class that’s killing you (this might be based on a true story).
And so you learn patience.
You have to learn the basic form of the postures. You have to learn the order of the postures. You have to learn the scope of the class, so you can pace yourself to make it through. You have to learn to breathe through it all. You have to learn to calm the mind and be still. You have to learn to focus. And all of that is before you even begin to learn the more advanced forms of the postures. So you have relax, and just let it come.
But stick with it. Allow yourself to have bad postures. Allow yourself to have bad classes. Keep showing up and some time in the future you’ll discover;
- You lost 10 lbs, or maybe you gained 10 lbs
- You can touch your toes for the first time since you were five (really)
- You didn’t strain or pull a groin muscle through an entire season of hockey
- You can listen, in total seriousness and with a straight face, to your 8 year old’s treatise on why Mario is a better character to race than Baby Peach. I have no idea what this means, but I have it on good authority that it is true.
Without forcing ourselves to show up, we gain no benefit. Without learning patience we can’t force ourselves to show up.
So relax, let go. It will come. And some pretty amazing things will come along with it.