Stay The Course!

I just finished listening to an excellent podcast by Gretchen Rubin where she and her sister discuss the idea of staying the course with the good habits you are trying to adopt into your life. 

That idea registered with me as someone who is in that active pursuit mode of working to clean up how I’m utilizing my time and look ahead to identify where I want to be and what I need to change in order to make that path my reality. 
But I am a mere mortal, much as we are and I know how easy it can be to “fall off the wagon” in pursuit of being better especially when we are trying to introduce a new, healthy habit that brings with it unique challenges and barriers. 

For example, I’m starting back in my 5 on 5 basketball men’s league about midway through September in the upcoming month. 

While I love playing basketball and look forward to when our league is “in season”, adding that habit back into the mix complicates life in a myriad of ways.

·         It means that I need to start running about 2 weeks prior to season start so that I have a solid foundation of cardio and endurance to get me through our 40 minute games. (guess what guys, I’m coming up on a week until b-ball season and I haven’t run at all! YIKES.) Now I have done a lot of exercise in the form of long walks, chasing my daughter, being mobile but no actual running to build endurance. #prayforme

·         It means less time during the week for me to work on writing, spending time with my daughter and wife, and one less evening to accomplish tasks at home.

·         It means I’ve got to save the $45 dollars required to participate in the league which means I better cut back on the Chipotle for the next couple of weeks and stash that extra cash.

·         Finally, and most importantly it has an impact on my family as they have to adjust their own schedules and expectations, knowing that I won’t be available on that single day each week which means more work for my wife with my daughter, and less daddy time for my little girl. 
You can see how even the simplest of changes in our day to day habits or routines can have a bunch of smaller ripple effects on our family and close friends. 

I would argue that because of this impact however big or small it may be, this makes it just that more difficult to adopt new habits and healthy routines, as you will probably face resistance not just at the internal level within yourself, but externally from those around you who are having to adjust to the “new you.”

In high school I had an excellent English teacher who assigned us the book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. As a teenager I didn’t allow that book to shape me as much as I should have but going back and re-reading it now as an adult, it is a great map to plot out how you are going to adjust your habits in order to instill stronger potential for success in your life. 

Heck now they’ve even got one specific to families as well, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families”. Both of these books are great resources if you are really trying to take a hard look at your own behavior and adjust it to better yourself and your family. 
These small resistances can often make the difference between someone that is able to keep pushing and pursue their new habit or someone who gives up, throws in the towel, and reverts back to their former behavior. 

How many times have you started something with the best of intentions only to drop out of the routine with 2-3 weeks and do your best to forget the perceived failure? 
I’ve done it too many times to even list! My struggle since I’ve gotten out of high school has been weight fluctuation. Without the structure of organized sports and a discipline instilling coach to stand over my shoulder, I was terrible about consistently working out. 

I’m a 6’5” giant dude so of course I’ve always been able to eat vast quantities of food. You know how most people have a “freshman 15”? Yeah mine was the freshman forty! Seriously I am not even exaggerating, I went from 195 to 235 in the span of less than 2 semesters. 
After that first year, I would yo-yo back and forth between 210 and 240 and have continued to do so throughout my later 20’s.

I am just now in a place where I’ve gotten the weight off and am working hard to maintain it. Keto has been tremendous in my effort to pursue a healthier lifestyle and feel more lively, energetic, and able to play with my daughter in the evenings, not allowing my work day to serve as an excuse as to why I can’t do something. 
Why is it so hard for human beings to stay on course when it comes to tasks that are designed to help us be better at life? Doesn’t it often feel like we are just destined to fail? I think that’s why a lot of people stop trying to pursue healthier habits. 

They have these small failures that rack up over time and eventually just resign to being the “way they are” with no hope to change and work on self-development. 
In the same way it can feel defeating to have these small losses rack up if you flip that on its head and start trying to rack up some small wins, that too can be just as powerful but in a positive way. 

First step on your way to building new habits is to make yourself an achievable/realistic goal. It can seriously be anything at all but you have to be willing to work at it consistently every single day. Maybe it is to brush your teeth 3 times a day. 

Perhaps it will just be to stay on top of the dishes every day and not allow them to stack up. I like setting goals that I will read something for at least 20 minutes every day as that gives me time (maybe during my lunch break) that I'm setting aside for me to  clear my head and get away from the day to day stresses. 

Whatever your goal looks like, don't allow yourself wiggle room. 

If you can stay consistent for 7 days, then keep going and aim for 14. Before you know it you might be at day 30 and that new goal/action might start feeling more habitual and easy to do as its become a more regular part of your routine. 

Another interesting tid-bit that Gretchen Rubin explained on her podcast was how we all give ourselves these "loop holes" to opt out of the new habit we are working on. For example,

"I've done really well on my Keto diet so I deserve to eat some of these loaded French fries and carb out for a day".

The fallacy in that false choice. Why is recognizing that you are doing well in pursuit of a healthy habit an enablement of that bad behavior you are trying to break away from? 

The truth? 

It isn't but we've designed these little loop holes for ourselves where we exercise some mental gymnastics and fall off the wagon. Don't get caught in that trap!! Keep your promises to yourself and keep working hard on your habits.

If you've made the determination to start down a path of healthier decisions and actions to build up your life, then remember that initial conviction and keep on pursuing it! I really want to spend this time to encourage you because taking the time to write this blog is in and of itself, a self-encouraging action for me. 

It helps keep my thoughts focused on why I am pursuing growth and self-development and allows me to continue and maintain that much needed consistency in that pursuit.

No one habit was created in a single day of good decisions. It is a long, arduous road filled with many loop holes, false choices, and mental barriers that are self-created and self-defeating. 

But if you can remember your foundation of "why" you are taking these actions and remind yourself of the end game that you had in mind when starting down this journey, then I know you can find success in your pursuit! You just have to stay the course!

If you enjoyed reading this article then keep on reading more of the great content that we have at likelyfiction. I recently wrote a "fun piece" just discussing my picks for Top 10 Podcasts of 2019 as I am an avid podcast consumer and fan across a wide variety of genres, interests, and topics. 

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