ThinkingThursday: Consistency of Effort

I sighed an audible sigh. “Fuck, I was fat,” I uttered with total disgust under my breath.

I normally love Facebook memories. They normally send a smile running across my face. Not this one. This memory glowed amid the darkness of the room while feeding my son at 4:30 am. The memory? Amazing! The adjoining picture? Painful.

Jerry with Martina Navratilova

There I was standing in a private box at the US Open having my picture taken with tennis legend Martina Navratilova. She appeared to still be one fittest people on the planet. I looked like I had an air hose stuck in my mouth. It was clear I was readying myself for a fight with The Michelin man. She probably could have still taken to Center Court and won a match.

Although I never saw myself as “fat” in the mirror, I apparently found pounds wandering the streets and benevolently offered them a free place to stay. My wife liked to use the appropriate term, “muffin top,” when playfully describing me.  I ignored her. But, she was right.

Hindsight provides clarity. I was not taking care of myself. I didn’t eat right. I didn’t exercise. And, sleep? I always thought, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” I didn’t realize I was killing myself in the meantime.

My body in the mirror demonstrated a seriously fluffy 200-ish pounds. In my delusional mind, all I saw was still the svelte eighteen year old athlete with a full head of hair. It’s amazing how minds and mirrors will do that to you. Boy, I drank life’s Kool-Aid of available excuses. “I’m too busy.” “I’m working too much.” “I just had a kid.” “I’m too tired.” “I don’t feel like it.” “I don’t [fill-in the blank].”

There is one universal truth. The foundation of life is health. Without the triumvirate of diet, exercise and sleep firmly planted,  you have no ability to grow.

Consistency of Effort

Big goals can overwhelm. But, it is the little bits of intention, effort and community that join hands to create something greater than the individual parts. Consistency of effort is the engine to achievement. This is the successful journey forward.

The Progress Principle by Teresa Amabile teaches us to celebrate progress every day. It raises enjoyment and sparks enthusiasm to continue the work. Celebrate every freaking day. Otherwise, big goals seem insurmountable. We lose track of the progress we are making towards the ultimate destination. The journey becomes lost on us. But, if we celebrate every small step, every small win, then we never lose touch. Celebrate! As my friend and coach, Caroline Petty says, “Action creates motivation. It isn’t the other way around.” To achieve your goals, you must start the journey.

I had been working out, but I made a serious commitment to my health after speaking with my Dad on his 75th birthday.  I wrote about the milestone of burning 100,000 calories on my last birthday. Now, I’m up over 170,000 calories on a rolling calendar year. I had a great Peak Week where I ran a 5:13 mile – the fastest mile I’ve ever run. When I look at my health, I’ve never been healthier or more fit. Ever.

Here’s the point: I didn’t do anything individually spectacular. Yet, I dramatically transformed my body and my health. I simply showed up at OrangeTheory Fitness every Monday to Friday at 6am, did whatever my Trainers asked of me. I gave it hell. Progress came in sixty minute increments. I paid attention to what I ate. I transformed my mindset and celebrated “food as fuel” instead of food as gluttony. I shamelessly adhered to “The Serious 7.” I need 7 hours of sleep to perform. As an avid 4am riser, I’m delighted to get into bed at 9pm.

And, adhering to The Progress Principle, I celebrated my small wins. I built a community inside those walls.  Man, I love those people. I shared my daily charts with friends and we cheered each other on for success. I snapped pictures of solid, healthy meals. I texted it to friends. I wrote about it. In the meantime, others wrote back to me on their own inspirational journey. We elevated each other. But, the progress, for me, was always just sixty minutes at a time. One meal at a time. One restful sleep at a time. Day in. Day out.

Big breakthroughs stand on the shoulders of micro-insights won in the daily grind. Consistency of effort moves mountains. Waiting for an ah ha moment of insight without work is like believing you’ll win a marathon without training – or even taking a step.

Connecting the Vision, the Values and the Why

It doesn’t matter your pursuit. In fact, the actual pursuit is irrelevant. The process is everything. Remember: Consistency of effort is the engine to achievement. I share my story of health. It could have been a reflection about any consistent effort of success.

This past weekend, I married my brother-in-law, Jack, and his bride, Eva. While I connected the idea to relationships, the principle remains the same for your life:

“Ultimately, you must look inward to determine what great life looks like for you as a couple. You are the only ones who can define your great marriage. I can’t tell you. Your friends can’t tell you. The government can’t tell you. You – together – must determine it.

  • What is your vision in life – or better said, what road do you want to travel together?
  • And, what are your values? Your values are your guardrails in a relationship of how your will treat one another.

Most people are dissatisfied with their relationships because they allow the relationship to blow in the wind like a leaf without a purpose. You can never feel fulfilled if you don’t set your intentions for life.

Above all else, whether inward or outward, please never forget that you – and only you – are empowered to create the life you dream of together. After all, our outer world reflects our inner self. Therefore, to create an extraordinary life and an extraordinary marriage you must individually commit to becoming extraordinary people.”

After all, Bill Walsh, Hall of Fame football coach is right. “When the why is strong, you find the how.” Define your vision, decide with your values and know your why. The rest falls into place, but only with consistent effort.

Comments

  1. I needed this. Thank you Jerry.

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