by Nate Truman
“All our talents increase in the using, and every faculty, both good and bad, strengthens by exercise.”
ANNE BRONTE, 1820-1849
PRACTICE MAKES PERMANENT!
If you are not in the place where you think you should be, stop and think about what you have practiced. If you are in great physical shape, I know it is because of your eating and exercising practices. If your relationships are strong, loving and trusting, I know what you practiced when you were interacting with others. If your finances are all in order, you have little or no debt, and you have a plan for future adventures and expenses, I know the kinds of habits you practice. There is one little problem with practice though, the opposite is true as well.
Your daily time is limited, and each choice you make on how to spend each moment, sends you on a specific set of outcomes. A nap or some exercise? Spending 2 hours scanning the internet or 2 hours interacting with your loved ones? “Zoning out” to the radio on your drive home, or listening to a recorded motivational or educational book? It is the small consistent decisions that will, over time, send you on a whole new life path.
You know that if you want progress, you have to take action. Also, if you take massive action in one area, the other areas of your life have to be put on hold for a while. But just as a crash starvation diet does help you lose a few pounds fast, we all know it’s temporary. It’s the consistent healthy eating combined with regular exercise that is the real answer to staying in good over all shape.
Take a look at how you are spending your days, hour by hour. If you want to move in a new and better direction in one area of your life, identify a habit that is not helping you achieve your goals, and decide today to replace it with a better habit. Do NOT decide to workout for 4 hours, or run 30 miles. Go for a short walk. You have to break the mental habit, and that will take 3-6 weeks of regularly doing something new.
Choose only one habit to replace. I say “replace” not break, or stop, because with nothing to replace it, you will be back doing your old habit in a short time. You will have to consciously tell yourself “no, I am not doing that old habit, I am now doing this” for a few weeks. Each time you sucessfully do the new action, try and think of all the reasons why the new habit is what you want to do, and all of the positive things that will happen because you are taking action.
At some point you will just do the new habit, because it feels “right.” You will just pull on your running shorts, or not even think to open your video game or turn on the TV, because you like the new you better, the one that is improving, instead of ignoring. Once you have successfully replaced the old habit, you can concentrate on intensifying and improving it.
If most of your life is about being a mom and serving your family’s needs, or keeping up with a demanding job, (or both!) don’t beat yourself up about the areas of your life that are not 100% how you want them. Fitness takes time and money, family takes time and money, survival takes time and money. There are seasons of our lives that shift the focus of our priorities. But no matter your situation, I am sure you can find a few small bad habits that are working against your true desires and direction, and then choose to actively shift them to a better alternative. Knowing you are taking a small step in the right direction will leave you in a much better place than guilt or self flaggilation ever will.
For long time success of reforming your life in all areas, slow and steady really does win the race!