Thank you so much for your generous response to “One of the Me-s I Used to Be”. I emailed everyone who commented and if you haven’t gotten it, please check your junk mail filters. I really wanted to let you know how much it means to me that you connected with my words. One of my great, quiet joys is helping people find their own paths.
Many of you wrote that I inspired you and I want to share something that can’t be overstated.
I bought the notion that choice is a singular event and then wondered why change was either a) hard or b) fleeting. Here’s the thing: the first time we make a choice is really important. Really, super important. But to keep that promise to ourselves we have to keep on showing up and making all the supporting followup choices.
Day after day. Again and again. I want a change? Then I’ve got to show up dozens and hundreds of time along the way. Eventually making those supporting choices becomes easier and then it becomes habit, but I still have to do it.
For example, I’m fit because I didn’t just say one day, “I’m going to get fit.” I also said, “And that means running in the rain.” I said, “Even if I feel tired.” I even said, “You’d better get up at dawn and go because it’s going to be hot.” Not to mention, “Shut up, whiner, the treadmill may be boring, but you’ll be so happy with yourself once you’re done.”
At the same time, you’ve got to forgive yourself along the way for being human and not a superhero. Don’t ask yourself in each situation, “What’s the best choice I can make here?” and answer the question as though you have the resources of Bruce Wayne, the flexibility of Elastigirl, and the army of staff at Buckingham Palace. Your best choice in any situation may not be worthy of a TV mini-series, but it’s still your best in that moment. The wonderful thing is that each and every time you show up for yourself, you get the energy, the confidence, the surge of motion that comes from keeping a promise. And every time you do approach a choice, no matter how tiny, you get the chance to start again. Even if you blew it five minutes ago, here’s a new chance coming along.
I think of it as building railroad track. I got that from homeschooling author Charlotte Mason, but I use it alllllllll the time with my Weight Watchers people and with Sandra and Matthias. Building habits is like laying track – hard, hard work. Leveling hills, tunneling through mountains, draining swamps…Hard work. But once laid, you just put the engine on the track, point it in the right direction, and it gets to its destination. A habit is like that – work to build, but then you get to ride it home every time.
So it’s not just a choice. Don’t buy that myth. Make that one choice and then show up again and again.