The Pace of Progress
By: Ellianna Leilani Legakis
The scene is a weight room in late winter. The room is not overly populated, but far from empty. So-called “Provo All-Stars” are using free weights near the entrance. Girls with athletic builds are using the treadmills and weight machines. Everyone looks like they go to the gym daily. Except the chubby red-haired girl on the recumbent bike. Equipped with her water bottle, headphones, and tablet, she’s hot pink and sweaty. It must be her first time here.
That girl is me.
As a perfectionist with poor self-esteem, endeavors to get healthier have historically fallen flat for me. If I can’t go to the gym for an hour at least five days a week, what’s the point? If I give in to that chocolate bar, I’m a failure. When something goes wrong or doesn’t measure up to my high standards, I give up.
It’s a problem a lot of us face when trying to better ourselves. Whether it is fitness, spirituality, academics, or personal skills, we are very discouraged when we can’t do things as well as we think we should. It seems better to just abandon the effort than to continue floundering. This is one of the biggest problems with New Year’s Resolutions. We set a series of lofty goals for ourselves, half being abandoned by the end of January, and most, if not all, are long gone by the beginning of March.
You may wonder why we are so prone to giving up. A better question is “Why do we set ourselves up to fail?” Most people set behavioral goals that look good to begin with but quickly become intimidating. But we see others go to the gym every day, others balance children and a career. The question then becomes “What are we doing wrong?”
Our mistake is trying to get there all at once. We don’t set goals to climb Mount Everest and then proceed to head out on such an expedition without experience and planning. We recognize the insanity in doing so! Similarly, our personal goals for our day to day lifestyle need to be incremental. I’ve made a habit of doing a serious workout routine twice a week. That won’t be enough to accomplish my weight-loss and fitness goals, but it is a crucial first step. I’ve kept up with this routine since the semester began, and I can already see a tiny bit of improvement. I might be ready to add a third workout to my week. But if I try to institute it and it turns out I’m not ready? I go back to twice a week!
We have to accept the pace of progress that we are ready for in all aspects of our lives. That is not to say we should cruise through life, but we shouldn’t be pushing ourselves way beyond our limits as we work to improve. Self-improvement should be taken one step at a time.