Everyday I am committed to my health, be that in body, mind, or spirit. My commitment is made clear via the actions I choose to take each day. When it comes to my physical health, I choose to eat a whole-food, plant-based diet with minimal to know sugar or refined or processed food consumption while exercising regularly. I commit to a healthy mind by following through with my creative endeavors like writing, reading, or studying. And I tend to my spirit by allowing myself time each morning to connect with Divine Guidance.
In the broad sense, I take action on these things every day, but when it comes to propelling myself to the next level, it’s important that I take a look at individual practices and ensure I’m actually following through in order to achieve my goals.
For instance, I’ve recently made the commitment to deepen my yoga practice by beginning to practice at home (in addition to still attending studio classes). My intention being that I can’t always attend studio classes, therefore on those days I can complete a home practice. I bought a book to teach me how to put together a home practice. I dove head first into exploring this new arena of growth. I was gung-ho for several weeks but then my schedule got hectic, and my 45-minute to hour-long practices were the first things to go.
Furthermore, I have re-committed to writing daily, and I’ve been inspired to re-open this blog. Upon re-opening the blog I felt the pressure to “have to write” a blog post each time I sat at my computer. I created pressure behind my writing, so I noticed I had stopped writing daily, since it meant I couldn’t always get a blog post out of it. I had switched my perspective and the center of importance away from writing towards creating a blog post. I reversed my priorities.
In these two instances, I generated a great amount of pressure by insisting I live up to a higher standard than one that I could actually commit to or originally committed to. I felt like I had to go big or go home every time. And that is just not the case! In fact, I have learned to focus on the long-term rather than the short-term gains of my goals, the beauty of one small step a day, and how to keep my priorities straight
1. Long-term Over Short-Term
These days I choose to focus on the long-term outcome of my goals rather than the immediate outcome. When I do this I give myself space to play around, try new things, and make mistakes. For example, if I were to switch from viewing my fitness as a long term goal to a short term goal, I would expect that within the next three, six, or twelve months I would be at the height of my fitness. And for what end? My life won’t be over in that period of time (Unless the Universe has other plans, but, hopefully, God-willing, that’s not the case.)
From this perspective, I don’t intend for there to be an explicit “peak” to my fitness but rather the ability to achieve a high level of fitness that honors my body over an extended period of time. Therefore, being strict on myself to commit and complete 45-minute to one-hour long at-home yoga practices approximately six days a week, in addition to studio classes, is unreasonable, at this point. That type of commitment actually deters me from stepping up to the mat in the first place. Instead, I want to make building an at-home yoga practice an approachable long-term goal. In order to do that, I’ll start small and work my way up.
2. One Small Step a Day
Starting small is the most important thing anyone can do when beginning a new endeavor, especially an endeavor that is intended to make it over the long-term. When you start small you’re able to gauge your capabilities for the day and adjust accordingly. Whereas, if you set up a goal much larger than you’re capable of doing in a given day, then you’re more likely to give up or not even try to begin at all.
In my yoga practice, I’ve decided that instead of pushing myself to meet the demands of an hour-long session, six days a week, it’s easier for me to commit to putting my mat out six days a week, listening to my body, and doing what comes naturally. That could be anything from an hour-long session to simply meditating (which is a crucial part of yoga, as well). When I give myself this flexibility, I am more likely to show up to the mat.
One thing I have absolutely learned about myself is that my energy fluctuates. I don’t always have the energy to go hard. But when I do, I know I can push myself to new edges and heights. And I am absolutely willing to do so, when I know I have the energy. I am grateful for my body and mind when I can go to these new places in any practice, but I honor myself when all I have in a day is the ability to show up.
Don’t let how you feel that day keep you from showing up and taking one small step. Instead, give yourself the flexibility to show up, however you do, with integrity and commitment lying in the heart of simply showing up. Showing up is all it takes to keep the ball rolling. You’ll know exactly what small (or large) step to take from there.
3. Keep Your Priorities Straight
Finally, it’s important to keep your priorities straight. As I mentioned above, I confused my daily writing practice with having to crank out a blog post for my now re-opened blog. Unfortunately, this put unnecessary pressure behind the creative act of writing.
My daily writing practice is intended to express my creativity and get me back in jive with the Universe in a creative and playful way. It was not intended to be a production machine.
As I sat down to write today, I realized the pressure I had put on myself and the consequence of doing so. I had not sat down to write in several days. This was astonishing to me because I had made the commitment level so low: only five minutes a day. Anyone can do that! That’s the epitome of “showing up and starting small.” But, then I unconsciously attached, “Five minutes a day and one flawless blog post,” to the commitment.
Fortunately, I’m self-aware enough to realize I did that. And that’s why my final point is to watch out for inadvertently mixing up your priorities. If the priority is long-term health of your body, then going for the short-term physical look could throw you off your exercise/fitness regimen. If creative expression is the long-term priority, then the short-term gain of completing a blog post could distract you. Be weary of these short-term priority flip-flops! They are sneaky and can get you off track easily.
A Lifestyle You Love
Going for the gold in my life has taken new form. No longer do I feel attached to having short-term gains, especially when I realize I’ll be taking these actions, or similar ones, for the rest of my life. I’ll have my whole life to achieve these goals. What’s the rush to complete them today? Therefore, what’s the point in being so hard on myself today? Why not start slow and easy and work my way into a lifestyle I love? I think that sounds like a great idea: switch from short-term to long-term goal attainment, take one small step a day, and keep all priorities straight. Over the long-term I’ll build a lifestyle I love! What do you think?