The time is upon us. It’s time for a journey. A pilgrimage. A wee bit of sightseeing. Ah, yes, as I clicked through the interwebz on Tuesday morning, I thought, “My, my, what have we here?”
Alas, it wasn’t post-Breaking Bad despondence, although that withdrawal is ironical. No, it’s one of those times when we embark on a mass exodus to Mos Eisley:
Errr, Washington, D.C. I was close.
During this 72 hour pop-culture extravaganza, each and every young Luke Skywalker is joined by their Obi-Wan Kenobi friend who studied political science long enough to find flaws in it, or have a political ambitions after 2 years of law school. The group is rounded out by our R2-D2 sidekick fueled by Wikipedia, Buzzfeed, and Jon Stewart.
Yes, the US Government has shut down. The end is near. Our apathy is punctuated with annual swells in political coverage with elections, and I appreciate the surge that has come along with the Affordable Care Act drama. The ACA is the law of the land, has been deemed constitutional, and according to our bipartisan practice, which is considering this a zero-sum game, there’s a winner and a loser.
Casting that formulaic view aside, I believe that we are the losers. We assume this will take care of itself, we’ll go back to political status quo, and wait for the next major change to mindlessly complain our ‘the other side’ without understanding the finer details of the situation.
These spikes in political interest remind me of exactly what happens in the exercise world on a regular basis. We have periods of apathy punctuated by spikes in interest. Exciting moments that catch our attention and provide us with something new, but failing to build a belief or behavior that’s life enhancing.
Our intermittent political attention matches our intermittent physical activity attention. We wait for 6-minute abs, 6 day diets, 6-week transformations, and it’s the mark of the Beast. There is little to no progress made my intermittently addressing health or hotness goals. There is incredible progress to be made by consistently addressing the attitudes and behaviors that are part of your goal.
Our cultural obsession with new, different, and fast is a departure from proven, effective, and reliable. While we’re chasing the latest rendition of Insanity, signing up for a discounted month of Hot Yoga, or arguing about fasted cardio, we’re loosing time and forgetting the opportunity that we have to make health and hotness a habit. That sampling of everything just provides us with a smattering of mediocrity and reinforces that belief that we can’t do it, or that it will always be tedious.
This applies to every factor of life, not just exercise. While learning, we know that our brain better stores information by learning snippets at a regular pace and then synthesizing that information together. We know that our body better learns a movement in a similar way, practicing a general pattern then fine tuning that with systematic exposure to similar yet different movements.
This applies to learning how to swing a golf club. This applies to learning how to chop vegetables as fast as the cooks on TV without losing a finger in the process. This applies to learning how to learn.
Small, incremental improvements will always trump fast, sporadic improvements. The anecdote of the tortoise and the hare exists for a reason. Even in communities with rapid growth, or individuals who regularly dedicate themselves to new, diverse tasks, there’s a history of steady work, a strong mindset.
These fiery, infrequent bursts pale in comparison to steady education and practice. I believe we should set short term goals that reflect our overall mission, and these frequent objectives are vastly different from the variety in our self-diagnosed ADD culture. Your goals may range from training dolphins, to being an archeologist, to playing a mandolin roll on a marimba, and whether you have few or you have many, are you okay?
Are you okay with working for brief periods of time to distract yourself from something bigger? When a project doesn’t go your way, do you immediately switch to a new product? If your squat has plateaued, do your switch to yoga instead? Are you focusing on your goals, working for steady, constant improvement in your craft? This is the approach that makes us resilient and leads us to our goals on a regular basis. This is the approach that we need.
The Government Shut Down. Did You?