Two weeks ago, to address some recurring pain in my knee, I made a 30-day yoga commitment: a minimum of 30 minutes of yoga a day for 30 days. I even have a big ol’ Austin Kleon 30 Day Challenge calendar hanging in my kitchen, with giant red-crayon X’s for each day I’ve completed.
10 days in, I noticed a few things.
The beginning is not the hard part. In fact, beginning big commitments is fun. There’s a bit of fanfare as you tell folks. A sense of self-validation that you’re doing something big and courageous. You spend time imagining the amazing results that will come at the end of 30 days.
This glow remains for a few days. Those first days are a living, breathing validation of all that excitement. They’re still fun.
Then, about a third of the way in, the excitement dies down.
You’re by yourself, alone with your commitment.
There’s no fanfare, no fans.
It’s just you, stuck in the middle. You’re tired and struggling for time and motivation. Maybe you’re noticing that you’ve not made as much progress as you originally imagined.
What a tempting moment to quit.
“Who will notice, really? Maybe I’ll just skip a day.”
I know that my motivation to start on Day 10 was zero. Same for days 11, 12, 13 and 14.
Here’s a dirty little secret about hard work, especially the kind that leads to real and lasting change: the middle bits (and lots of the bits) aren’t all that glamorous.
They’re hard not just because of the actual challenge of doing the hard thing we’ve decided to do. They’re also hard because the act of following through is itself sometimes a grind.
All of us, 3-4 months into this pandemic, find ourselves past the beginning stage of this new world and new life. We’re far from the shore we left, and we’ve got no clear end in sight. No doubt we have felt, or are about to feel, a dip.
Whether or not you’ve specifically made a 30-day commitment, you’re no doubt spending your days doing new things, trying on new approaches, working on new ways (slowly…but also surely) of becoming the person you’re meant to become: a healthier you, a stronger you, a more accepting you, a more confident you, a more grounded you, or maybe a you that’s more at piece with the fact that kid(s) + job(s) = a different calculus on what “productive” really means.
In case you find yourself stuck, I thought it might help to hear this reminder: just because the middle bits are hard doesn’t mean it’s time to give up.
In fact, the middle bits being hard are the best indication that you’re doing something worthwhile, something that will yield important results.
Keep showing up for yourself.
The results will come in time.