One thing’s for sure. We have to make this very real. When I say “this,” I mean our plans for the future.
Know what I mean?
This means we have to plan ahead. We have to make our goals realistic and attainable; otherwise, we can lose sight of our reward system and then find ourselves asking, “What’s the point?”
I’ve watched so many people jump into the ideas of a new change, only to quit a few days later. Or better yet, I’ve seen people create a new workout regime and set their sights too high. They set up an unrealistic plan and find themselves looking up at the uphill battle. Then what?
It’s hard enough to stick with a plan.
It’s hard enough to get out of bed in the morning and put your feet on the floor.
It’s hard enough to deal with life and all of its chores let alone make a change or to find a new program of living that would help your life make sense.
Believe me, I get it.
We all want to be better.
We all want to look our best and feel our best. Sometimes, our hunger to reach our goals does not match our abilities – at least not right away. Strengthening muscles takes time. Nobody wakes up with the ability to do a thousand pushups yet there’s this idea of accomplishing this goal. Meanwhile, here I am and I can hardly do five pushups, let alone one hundred or a thousand.
I can remember an early morning plan of mine. The goal was to reach the gym by 5:00 am, which I did for about . . .. three weeks or maybe a little more than a month. Either way, the plan was short-lived.
First, the gym was not too far away but it wasn’t so close either which meant that I had to get up, get motivated, get dressed, and be there when the doors opened at 5:00 because I had to be back home in-time to shower and make my way to work.
This was not too bad. However, there was a small coffee-clutch or little group of people who saw this as their social hour instead of exercise time. Everyone was friendly, which is fine. But at the moment, I was not in the most social of moods nor did I want to talk to a group of women who spoke about their diets and home life.
I had grown-folk business to take care of.
At the same time, I have my own physical intimidations about the gym. I was never a gym-person. I never wanted to go and I never felt the connection that other people discuss when they talked about going to the gym.
Next, it was early, really early.
I saw no reason for conversations with cheerful people who decided to gather and talk rather than use the treadmills and workout.
I have found one thing to be true; distractions do exactly what they are intended to do.
They distract us from our goal. In my case, the distractions were enough to make me quit – or better yet, these distractions were enough to allow me the excuse to quit.
I offer this because one could argue that I was already looking for a way out. One could argue that my level of commitment was not enough to keep me motivated. Once could argue that our levels of commitment equal our levels of success; in which case, this would mean that my level of commitment was for shit!
Another argument is that “You have to really want it,” to which I would argue, I wanted to look better and feel better. I wanted the celebrations and the accolades of weight loss and to have a good body. But the work ahead of me was intimidating and the rewards are slow to come by in the beginning.
First, I was sore.
My typical routine with food was changed which meant I had to find new rewards. However, my old default settings were used to old rewards. Hence, since I was afraid of not feeling the rewards or hearing the bells and whistles of a comforting item on the menu, I found myself locked in the constraints of intimidated thinking.
My problem was scheduling as well as finding a way to both entice and trigger my reward system.
After all, isn’t this why we do things?
Who doesn’t want the validation or the pat on the back?
Who doesn’t want the gold star on the fridge?
We want the reward. We want the special cookie.
We want the “For he’s a jolly good fellow” celebrations but life and reality do not offer this on a daily basis.
At least not for free.
We want the feeling that connects to a gold star in our brain and comes with an internal celebration that feels good enough to keep us motivated. This is the carrot before the horse.
I have learned that without a realistic approach, changes are often aborted and aspirations can either vanish or be deferred.
I have seen what I call the “New Hire Syndrome” where a newly hired colleague comes in an hour early to their new job. The new hire sets a fast pace for themselves. Yet, I have seen this pace quickly dwindle.
I have watched new hires as they start their job and reach for the accolades. When people tell them “Hey, slow down. You’ll burn yourself out,” they respond, “Na, this is just how I roll.”
But is it?
When we set an unrealistic pace, we set ourselves up for disappointment.
The new colleague who comes in an hour early pulls this off for one or two months. But then what?
The reward becomes fleeting and the accolades seem to dwindle. Next, the return on their investment is simply not worthy enough.
All of a sudden, their pace is too quick.
So, they’re in 30 minutes before start time.
Note: There’s an interesting translation that occurs here with the emotional mind.
There’s a translation here which the mind picks up. There’s an idea that we failed to do what we set out to do and thus, we start to overthink our patterns. We connect with the energies of failure-based thinking.
So . . .
We set new goals yet the connection between our thinking and our previous letdowns are mapped in the background of our subconscious program.
Next, the new hire is coming in 15 minutes early. Until finally, they’re just making it in on time. Eventually, there’s a disconnect and a self-defeating idea that goes, “What’s the point?” and now they’re coming in late.
There’s a saying I once heard back when I started as an operating engineer.
Everyone is great out of the gate but let’s see how they sprint after we’ve gone around the track a few times.
I also equate this to an old car that I used to have. My Old Car Syndrome is similar to the New Hire Syndrome, but from a different angle.
Old cars require special attention. I can say this with experience.
I can also say that when one thing goes wrong, the item needs to be addressed.
When the “check engine” light comes on, the car needs service. With an old car, it pays to take care of things right away.
One item in need of repair can quickly become two items that need repair – and the list can go on. Next, the old car, which is all that you had, is on its way down to the junkyard. In your mind, you say “Fuck it” because what’s the difference, right?
The car is going to die anyway, right?
Might as well drive it into the ground.
But, with proper care, this might have been avoided.
The way we address our goals and the way we address our thinking and organize our plans are a direct route to the levels of our success.
I have been working in the early hours for several years now. To be clear, this was not easy, at least not at first.
However, although my goals and my achievements were tiny at times; they have both added and compiled enough to trigger my reward system which is why getting up between 3:30 and 4:00 am is no longer a tragedy to me.
I had to change my thinking; but more, I had to change the way I feed my reward system.
My successes might not sound insurmountable to anyone else but to me, the fact that I wake up and immediately begin to journal has translated into years of success.
This has kept me alive at times when I wanted to quit. This has helped me promote myself as well as allowed me to emotionally dump or to remove the cancerous bouts of troubled thinking.
I have set up a program for myself which is what I do. I wake up. I find my magic coffee machine. I push the pretty blue button and listen to the hissing, gurgles, and then I listen as the stream of coffee begins to fill my cup.
I sit in front of my empty screen and watch as the letters appear, almost perfectly in the justice of a stream of conscious approach. I allow my fingers to punch the keys as I type. As this happens, I can feel the success of me grinding away at my goals. These are my steps. This is the redirection of my thinking to associate me with a plan of attack because rest assured, the same as anyone else in this world – I have life happening to me on a daily basis. But more, I have grown-folk business going on too.
Living with mental health or emotional disorders, thinking errors and the cognitive distortions which come with catastrophic assumptions and low self-esteem are in need of a special order. I had to remap and change my thinking. I had to disconnect from old outlets and find new pathways of redemption.
In order to be freed from the webs of problematic thinking, I’ve seen proof from the battles and evidence which shows that the mind is only a conduit and that energy is constant. However, energy is neither positive or negative; and more, our energy is in need of direction. We have to be very careful with this because otherwise we can direct our energy to be a draining process. Or, we can paint ourselves into a corner and then we ask ourselves, “What’s the point?”
Maybe people differ. In fact, I know that we all differ. We all have our own complications and difficulties yet the math is the same.
Everyone has a challenge of some kind. We all have an obstacle to boost into an opportunity. Everyone has a problem that they’d rather see as the wealth of possibility. But there’s a challenge.
Maybe it’s not the gym. Maybe it’s something else or an intimidation of a different sort. Either way, in the face of personal or transformational change, we have to come at this with a reasonable and realistic approach.
By the way, as I write this to you, I can literally type while looking at the screen and watch as the letters appear on the monitor. This was not the case from the start. I used to type with two fingers.
I had to teach myself how to type. I had to learn how to write and I’m still learning. I had to discover my path and my writing voice. I had to evolve in order for me to grow, which I am still evolving and fortunately, I am still growing.
I had to work at this on a daily basis. What were my gifts?
What was it that kept me going?
I suppose my first and biggest gift was a message I received from a women who lived in Greenland.
I wrote a true story about my brother, Dave.
Next to my Old Man, Dave is my second hero in this world. I wrote about the time he tied me to the back of his car in a parking lot and drove me around the icy pavement, which didn’t work out so well. I wrote about the time he said he would do my math homework if I drank a cup of Vermouth that made me sick as a dog! But worse, all of the math questions he did were wrong!
I wrote about the crazy things that went on between brothers and somehow, a woman from the other side of the globe came across my story.
She sent me a message thanking me. She told me about her brother.
She told me about the crazy things that went on between them and that my story triggered a smile.
A smile. This was something that she had not been able to do for a long time – at least not since her brother’s suicide.
She thanked me.
Can you believe that?
She thanked me . . .
Meanwhile, I saw for the first time that my work, regardless of who this touches or what this means to anyone else, everything I do or build and create has a special value.
This means my efforts have worth.
I was going to quit too.
I was going to skip a day on my commitment to write every day at a certain time. And just like that, a message from Greenland came to remind me of this: Never give up on yourself.
Go. Be. Do.
These three words have helped change my life.