Yesterday I did one more push-up than I did the day before that.
That’s not very impressive, but sometimes one more is enough. Progress is made in increments of one. One more push up. One more second meditating. One more word put on paper. One less calorie consumed. One step closer to a goal.
Sometimes I get caught up in the vastness of what I want to accomplish. The mountains of physical fitness, writing a book, creating a practice overwhelms me and I feel so small. Defeat is inevitable. But, I take one more step, and that’s enough. With one more step, I can work my way along this beautiful trail of life and climb any mountain. Of course, the mountain doesn’t really exist, at the top will be more trails and more peaks to shoot for. Endpoints and victories are illusions, all we have is the path and the steps we take.
There are days when I feel super productive and knock out dozens of tasks. I hit a new personal best 2-mile run, I read 100 pages, I write dozens, I work 8 hours, I clean the house and rake the yard. My “to do” list disappears at an alarming rate. I sprint towards my goal on those days and it just feels So. Damn. Good.
Then there are days like yesterday, where my progress is less like a sprint and more like a forward collapse. It is easy to beat myself up for days like yesterday. “Why can’t I be more like my previous self and see huge progress? Why can’t I be more productive with my time and spend less time slacking? Why only one push up?”
Because some days one is all you have in you, but one is good enough. One is perfect. One is progress.
The holiday season is upon us. I spent the last couple of days driving up from Dallas to St. Louis to spend time with my partner’s family, and the next week or so is going to be filled with a whirlwind of family, food, and travel. To be honest, I was kind of stressing out about all this. I felt like I had finally settled into a healthy routine of exercise 4-5 times a week, eating right, working on learning German, reading regularly, and taking a couple of courses on Coursera. Now, all of that is disrupted and it really frustrated me. Luckily, I had kind of a drunk epiphany last night and my attitude changed.
Instead of worrying about how behind I’m getting or how that cookie is going to effect my waistline, I’ve decided to view this time as a reward. I deserve to be gluttonous and lazy and slack off for a few days. I’m going to spend some time enjoying all the sinning that is excused in the name of holiday cheer. If I find myself with some spare time I will work on Coursera and reading, but that is unlikely. Instead I can play Hearthstone, take naps, and try to sneak in some banging even though the family is around.
I think a big part of this drunk epiphany has come from my meditation practice, which I’ve really started to make an important part of my day. Mindfulness has made examining my thoughts without judgement almost second nature. When I was feeling stressed or bummed I was able to take a step back, look at why I was feeling that way, and analyze if there was anything I could do to change the circumstances. I couldn’t really change the travel and such, but I could change the way I viewed their impact on my life. Instead of a disrupting obligation they became a welcome reward for being awesome. So, now I’m looking forward to a week without work, chores, or concern over my fitness. That stuff will all be waiting for me in January.