Tortoise Wisdom: Slow and Steady Wins the Race
We all want things. We may want to be stronger, have more energy, feel more balanced, eat healthier, lose weight, etc... We imagine how much our lives would improve, how much better we would feel with those things. We get super pumped to overhaul our lifestyle and take off out of the gate in a mad sprint towards our dreams.
One day we wake up and we don't feel like it. Or we realize how hard it is. Or we try and fail and give up. Or we get distracted by our day-to-day to-do's. Something happens and we find ourselves on the sidelines, forgetting or ignoring our original intentions.
“In Sanskrit we have a word which means “heroes at the beginning” (arambhashura): people who take up a job with a fanfare of trumpets but soon find that their enthusiasm has tiptoed down the back stair. Those who go far in meditation are the ones who keep on plugging. They may not be very spectacular; they may never hear a trumpet. But they keep on trying day in and day out, giving their best in every situation and relationship, never giving up. Such people are bound to reach their goal.” ~ Eknath Easwaran from Conquest of Mind
So how do we avoid this unproductive pattern of trying to do too much too fast and then bailing because we can't keep it up? How do we stick with our goals – day after day, month after month, and year after year? It's a marathon after all – not a sprint. How do we become a hero in the end – not just at the beginning?
We might often think that we have to make a herculean effort to get anywhere. Maybe your tendency is all in and then all out so you flip-flop from "being good" and then "being bad".
Perhaps the path is the one of least resistance. Maybe it's ok to go for the lowest hanging fruit – the baby steps that are in your reach - doable and sustainable. In the words of Leo Babauta:
"Make it so easy you can't say no".
It might feel ridiculous to meditate for one minute, or do one sun salutation, or to go to bed 15 minutes earlier (or even 10), or to plan one healthy meal a week. It might even feel pointless and silly. What I say to that is "patience grasshopper". What you're doing is building the habit. You're creating momentum. You're turning the barge slowly but surely – that one degree turn will lead you in a completely different direction. Where you will end up is in a completely different place from where you started from.
And then of course you build on that little action. Steadily increase your output and watch the compound effect of your persistent efforts pay off in big dividends. The idea is to embrace the idea that it's ok for it to be easy, as long as it's something. It's alright for it to be small – it's better than nothing. And don't worry if your progress is slow, it's far superior to non-existent.
And then commit. 100%. Seriously. What would it look like to make a non-negotiable vow to yourself? Create bright lines. Set clear boundaries around what you will do DAILY. And then go do it.
I'm cheering for you! You can do it!! You're worth it!!! I believe in you!!!!