Despite the decidedly crisper air outside and the header on my calendar which clearly shows that fall is well underway at this point, I am still in shock that we are already through the first week of October. If you blink, your schedule will be packed with Christmas parties, decorations, and shopping for gifts in no time. We are now in the final quarter of 2017. UNBELIEVABLE. Time truly does fly, whether we are ready or not, which is why the best time to start something is usually NOW. It’s been a month, so it might be worthwhile to check in with yourself and those September Resolutions (and if you didn’t set any, NOW is a great time to do so). Ongoing, periodic assessments of your progress thus far, what has gone well, what has fallen by the wayside, and why is invaluable to building the life that you want. Although most people “know” that habits don’t form and things don’t change overnight, we can often underestimate the value of consistency.
Although taking things one day at a time may be less glamourous than some dramatic overnight transformation, I will attest that consistency in building an actual lifestyle of healthiness can be intensely gratifying. In real life there are seldom instances when a long term and sustainable solution is achieved via a magic bullet. It’s much better to live a lifestyle which is representative of your values and supports the image you want to present rather than killing yourself with exercise, crash dieting or cramming to study/clean/fix something at the last minute before a big event or holiday. It is rare that I hear of someone who actually wants to perpetually yo-yo diet or be on a never-ending cycle of starts and stops. Generally what we want is not a temporary solution, but something that requires a commitment to consistency – an actual lifestyle which supports and sustains our ambitions and goals over the long term.
Often enthusiasm can get us started and fuel us in the short term, but when we grow weary of consistency, it is very easy to fall into the trap of believing that any one instance of an action is irrelevant or pointless – which is actually true to some extent. It usually doesn’t matter if you have one “cheat meal/day”, miss your usual barre class one time, or treat yourself to an extra hour of watching TV. However, the sum of those small, seemingly inconsequential actions is very meaningful. This concept is well illustrated in the paradoxical “Argument of the Growing Heap,” introduced to me by Gretchen Rubin in her book Better Than Before. This Sorites Paradox, proposed by Renaissance philosopher, Erasmus, is:
If ten coins are not enough to make a man rich, what if you add one coin? What if you add another? Finally, you will have to say that no one can be rich unless one coin can make him so.
It is easy for us to think that one particular action or choice is not important (What does it matter if I skip one day?) because it isn’t, in and of itself, but each of those individual instances do have a significant effect as they accumulate. Over time, each small “coin” we add to the pile adds up and makes a big difference. This time, this one, and today DO matter. Whether it comes to saving money, growing a garden, or changing your habits, the concept of “sowing and reaping” applies – you will get out of something what you invest into it, but usually it’s not instantaneous. Commit yourself to consistency and stick with it. Schedule specific actions and times for you to work towards your goals and find an accountability strategy that works for you, like partnering up with a friend or booking classes in advance. And when that time comes – show up and show up big! Head to the gym or come to the studio, ready to push yourself to give it all that you have. Dedication and hard work does pay off, so grit your teeth and stick it out all the way through your “last, best 10!”
If you have already made some good headway on your September Resolutions and goals, keep it up! And if you haven’t, recommit yourself to do what you can, with what you have, where you are now. Healthy living and habits are an ongoing journey with plenty of ups and downs, failures and challenging times, but maintaining as much consistency as possible, sticking with it and persisting through setbacks is oh so worth it!