Change can be hard and as I look back on my life it's hard for me to believe that I have become the person I am today. I am so very different than the fat, heavy smoking, alcoholic, caffeine-addicted, junk food eater. I have dramatically changed both mentally and physically. As I look back at who I was I recognize I was extremely insecure, self-sabotaging, and focused on external salvation.
I am a changed person. I look at life as a quest for my own personal growth and the only measure I have is against my former self. I am always working on my physical health as a reflection of my internal state. I just want to see what I can do with this life. I used to think this meant doing something significant by society's standards. I now believe that this is a day to day internal quest. There is no useful external recognition in it.
Here are some tools I use to measure and promote change and growth:
Tracking progress- I now realize that real change happens incrementally, one step at a time. When I was first getting into health I thought that one magic thing would make me superhuman. Instead the best changes have been small but consistent and I no longer struggle with so many of the issues I once had. The point of this is to say if you are trying to change something in your life track it. Pay attention to the little changes everyday. This will give you some personal accountability but will also allow you to see the small victories and how real change happens over time.
Mini goals - Have a small daily goal of doing the same or better than the last day. Having big goals is fine but often people set an overwhelming and unattainable goal just to make it easy to give up on. Set a daily goal, do the task every day. Make it a habit, chip away at it. Every real accomplishment teaches you patience. This may be working out even if its a 10 minute walk after you eat. It may be going until 10:00am without coffee. I am in a phase where I am trying to get stronger at the gym. I'm not innately prone to muscle gain, but it amazes me how some days I feel so weak and others I have a breakthrough. Once you hit a new best it is easy to make that common. This can apply to relationships or any goal you may have. Don't look at others; compete with yesterday's you. I see these muscle guys on steroids, pictures photo shopped with the best angles and lighting, and I'll never look like them. I just want to have fun seeing what I can do that is sustainable and natural so I can realize my personal full potential. Learn something new every day. I started late but if I continue to do many of the habits I currently have year after year it will really pay off.
Be an optimist- It is hard for me to even type that as I tend to look at the down side of things. When life gets tough, we tend to look for ways to avoid future pain instead of having gratitude and hope for what's coming that's great. When I say be an optimist I mean believe that it will pay off in the long run. I studied economics in collage and I believed the system would collapse any day. The fake currency was being inflated so fast, there was no way it could continue in my mind. Then my senior year of college 9/11 happened and I remember thinking it was all over. As we know know, it wasn't. I then spent years in real estate buying and selling houses, all short term thinking the market would crash, and it did. I thought it was the end. Once again, it wasn't. Had I been more optimistic and realized the amazing potential of human resiliency, ingenuity, and potential against all odds, well...let's just say I'd be in a very superior position to where I am today. I learned my lesson and I'm not giving up. I may be late to start but I have to start somewhere. I have invested so much of my time and money in health and I see that it will pay off. What can you start doing today that will be huge 20 years from now if you stick with it?
Avoid hype- I have always been drawn to the hype; chasing the illusion. I now believe that if something is too good to be true than it just might be. I trust the process and am so glad that so many of the fake people and business attempts I made in the past didn't work out. I now have character and can simply say "wait and see." The alternative health world is filled with hype and people want to believe it so bad. Bogus devices, ridiculous products claiming to do it all, a person muscle testing people in her home for money, and so on. As an example: How do you loose weight? Eat less and move more for 6 months. People are making a tremendous amount of money off people who have more money than sense. Think critically and walk away. Do some homework, you can always come back later.
Focus on sleep- Go to bed by 10:00ish and get up at 6:00ish. Adjust this to your life but get good sleep (at least 8 hours). If you do, everything in life will get much easier. I have a ton of suggestions on this at the Resources page - how to sleep. Fix this first before anything else and everything else will be easier. Be consistent.
Connect- Find a person or group that will encourage you in your process.
I could go on but the truth is start something today. Small goals turn into big victories down the road. Look at the trend and not the failure or victory in isolation. The trend is what matters. Start now, don't wait for the new year.
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Rob Alexander is on a journey to learn not just about health but everything else.
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