Be Patient, Change Takes Time

I got to thinking about an article I read by Dean Somerset, a fitness guru who has a great site on strength training.  The article is, “The Most Important Quality for Fitness Goal Achievement.” As you may have guessed from the title of my post, that quality is patience.

Oh, yeah, full disclosure. I don’t know Dean, I’ve never met Dean (he lives 2000 miles away), I’ve never so much as interacted with him online. I receive his emails, and like his stuff. Check him out and decide for yourself.

Anyway, when I reread it I got to thinking about my pathway to improved posture, and the amount of time and effort that went into fixing my back pain, mobility and postural problems. It was actually the efforts to overcome these problems, the successes I’ve had, and the path I took that brought me to be here, jabbering on about such things.

Yesterday I was riffing on “Change is Hard.” That just showing up is a simple solution, but not an easy solution. I passed on a few tips for making it easier to make a change, without really drilling down into one of the real keys.

When I had my inspiration to make a change I started from a place of very poor posture, having slouched my way through four decades before I decided I needed to change. Making the change was not something that happened overnight, or in a week, or a month or even a year. It’s been four years I’ve been working on my back issues and I notice two things.

First, me having a healthy back with proper posture is not just a goal, it is a process. While a goal is good and necessary, if you focus only on the goal you will fail.

Don’t believe me? Go back to New Year’s Resolutions. How many people set a goal, fail to achieve it in a week or two, and simply give up? 80%, 90%, more? Necessary as the goal might be, it’s the process that gets you there. I have been working on erasing a lifetime of bad postural habits. If I focussed only on the goal, I probably would have quit years ago, because changing the habits of a lifetime takes time, which means it takes patience.

Second, progress is not continuous. Continuous improvement is not possible, not linear, you will not get better every day. You will have bad days, you will backslide and you will get frustrated. If you successfully achieved a New Year’s Resolution to lose 10 lbs., did you lose a little bit every time you weighed yourself? Not likely. In fact, if you set a goal to shed a specific amount and then weigh yourself daily, there’s a good chance you will become discouraged and quit because you can’t see that continuous improvement.

Go a step further. How many people achieved the goal of losing 10 pounds by some fad diet, quit the diet, and then promptly put the weight back on? They used a tactic, not a system. When the tactic yielded the desired result, they dropped it, reverted to the old ways, the old system, and promptly lost the gain.

I’ve said it before; winners have systems. Everything I wrote about showing up, letting it come, and change being hard is focussed on that one thing; creating the system, and following the system.

  • Lower the barriers.
  • Prep yourself.
  • Make yourself comfortable.
  • Create a schedule.
  • Decide in advance.
  • Show up

In short, set yourself up for success.

But, and there is always a “but.”

But none of it will work if you don’t have patience. Allow yourself to be human, to fail sometimes. Have a bad day, have a bad class, hell have a doughnut. Change is Hard, it’s no revelation, we all know how hard it is to make a change. We know how easy it is to get down on ourselves and revert to the old, easier way of doing things. That’s why it so important to lower barriers, to set yourself up for success. But even after you overcome the barriers, create a routine, and show up, change is not immediate. Have patience.

It takes time to see the improvement, sometimes a long time. Have patience.

The time scale of success depends on the goal. To lose weight, to fix your posture, to make healthy living a lifestyle, your time scale is not days or weeks, it is months or years, which means patience. As the years go by, as I raise my boys, I’m more and more reminded of the admonition, “Good things come to those who wait.”

Be patient, but not passive. Wait. Not for your goals, but for measurable success in achieving them. Be active in pursuing the system, the process. And relax, it will come, success in any endeavour takes time.