Is my life better today than it was a year ago? Absolutely! Has it been an easy journey? Absolutely not! Any effort to improve life is going to meet with resistance, but those obstacles can serve as inspiration for growth. Here are a few things that I’ve learned on the journey to where I’d like to be:
1. It takes an iron will. A lot of our day to day life consists of habits that we aren’t aware of – until we decide to change them. Suddenly, things that we didn’t give a second thought require more brainpower (and sometimes physical power) than we realize. I had to think about what I was eating, and even had to learn how to cook all over again because cooking and cooking healthy are two different things. I had to motivate myself to exercise before I took to my recliner to write, read, or watch TV (and figure out how to work my workout around my routine chores and errands). I had to find new ways to reach readers, and they’re in habits of being at the same places too, so my promotion had to hit a wider area than before. It was exhausting – and don’t forget that I was also going through a job change, which meant I was being “retrained” because different areas do things different ways. There were many times I felt like running in the road screaming “I can’t do this anymore!” and all that kept me going was my husband, parents, and friends to remind me that today’s hurts would be tomorrow’s better life if I stuck to it through the hard adjustment phase. You are the hardest enemy you’ll fight, and the only way to win is to remind yourself that you’re making better choices and committing to staying the course – repeatedly.
2. Exercise hurts before it helps.You know how people say that you’ll feel better and more energetic if you exercise? That’s 4-6 weeks in a routine. Your body resists change just as hard as your mind does, and it revolts violently when you go from a sedentary to active lifestyle. I thought I had come down with a virus after my first week on T25 because I felt physically ill for several days. Moving up or changing workouts will result in some pain and suffering too, but it’s usually not as bad as when you first start out. One thing I suggest to combat this is muscle milk; a protein mix you can buy in grocery stores or pharmacies to mix with milk and drink after workouts. It’s expensive, but it does combat a lot of the soreness that goes with exercising. Other than that, try painkillers and sticking it out, remembering that it will get better once your body accepts that it isn’t living in a chair anymore.
3. People ignore progress. Don’t be surprised if nobody comments on the progress you’re making. They won’t at first because they see you all the time, and by the time it becomes obvious, they’re usually so surprised that they don’t mention it because: 1. They think they’ve lost their mind for not “getting it” sooner, or 2. They’re jealous because you’re visible proof that you’re doing what they should be doing, and it makes them feel bad. I was so focused on staying my own course that I didn’t notice that nobody commented on my weight loss until somebody said something about it. But then again, that’s as it should be. You’re supposed to be making life improvements for you, not attention from others. If you need external motivation, then find an accountability partner vocal enough to say something about your progress along the way. And if your feelings get hurt because people are ignoring you’re progress, then remember that how how others treat you is a reflection of them, not you.They are just as free to make decisions as you are, so mind your own business and let them work out their problems on their own.
4. Sometimes, the path forward is stepping back. A lot fell out of my life in 2015, both personally and professionally. Life usually progresses and builds on itself, so it’s natural to feel like something is out of place when responsibilities are removed or things go away. Sometimes what fit before doesn’t need to be a part of your life anymore, and it should go away so you can prepare for what’s to come. It isn’t a demotion or a failure – it’s evolution, and I realized that the change was preparation for greater things to come. Plus, nobody can take away the experiences you’ve had or what you’ve learned. They are part of you, and you’re free to apply those things to any and every part of your life where they can help. Don’t limit yourself. You own your whole life, so don’t limit your knowledge, skills, and experience. Open up and let it flow through your whole life, like the whole human being that you are!
5. Progress requires constant recalibration. I think the last point leads to this point. What works today might not work tomorrow. Case in point: my previous writing promotion efforts quit producing results because readers go the same places all the time, and I had tapped out those markets. They don’t move, so I have to if I want to generate more book sales, which means I need to constantly expand and change my approach. Blog hops and author features have done their job, so now I’m expanding out to social media and books show efforts. It’s the same with diet and exercise: eventually, your muscles get used to the routine and you plateau out because they’ve gotten all they can from that one, and you have to change to kick start things again. The nature of the universe is change, so you have to remain aware and alert of the results your efforts produce, and be ready to change when things plateau out. Again, this isn’t failure, it’s simply the chaotic nature of the universe. Opening your mind to knowledge and creativity in your daily round keeps you prepared to make these adjustments with minimal mental or physical struggle, because it’s easier to change course when you’re in motion than it is to get started again from a stubborn rut.
Change isn’t easy, but it’s worth the trouble if you’re willing to focus on your goals and pursue a better lifestyle. The most important things are to be aware of yourself and the world around you, and to never give up. Today’s small step of progress can lead to the breakthrough you’ve spent weeks, months, or ever years working for.
That’s all today. Take care, and have a great week.