Small Incremental Changes

Small Incremental Changes

Dec 4, 2016

omano_om88_clinical_compound_microscopeSmall Incremental Changes

 

By Josh Hunt

 

Last month I did something that I had never done before and that is take a legit vacation. Now I’ve traveled and taken time off from work, but in my thirty-four years on this earth I have really never taken time and gone somewhere just to…well relax. This was a new experience for me, I am not used to doing nothing. To be honest when I have a few hours of ‘down time’ and I use them for things like reading, playing video games, watching movies, and other leisure activities I feel dirty. Really, I feel like a need a shower. There tends to be this strange emotion that grows in my stomach the longer I sit around that consists of awkwardness and guilt for not accomplishing something. I had to battle these feelings as I gazed upon the splendor of the rain forests and pacific ocean’s coast lines of Costa Rica. Yeah, I know tough gig, right? I knew going into this situation it would be strange for me, but I fool heartedly thought that I could use this time to create a grand plan. A plan that would allow me to get closer to achieving my goals and being the person I strive to be. But, just like many others things in my life this idea did not come to fruition. Unlike Zoroaster, I was unable to sequester myself on a mountain for ten years and find my true meaning.

 

Although I had fun on my vacation, I was a bit vexed that I felt no closer to my grand plan than when I left. So many times, I have decided to try to take some time to plan the architecture of my life and haven’t gotten anywhere. But, in the time that has lapsed since my vacation I have come to the realization that anything that one strives for be it a life plan, to financial stability, to attaining the athletic goals one desires, happens in small incremental changes; which I can reconcile with feeling strange when I sit around. If I am moving in a direction, then I am accomplishing, but as much as I want to tick things off the meta-to-do-list, I have to be patient.

 

We all wish that things happened faster. We want diets to allow us to drop weight in days or weeks instead of months or years. We want our powerlifting totals to be the same as elite athletes, and we want it in the next year. But, things don’t work that way. I didn’t wake up one day at two-hundred and seventy-five pounds. I gain muscle and fat a few grams at a times over years. These sweeping changes that we aspire for don’t happen, they are tiny little victories. These small victories add up over time to large accomplishments. Along the way we sometimes take steps back, but at the end of the day, week, month, or year we should be slightly ahead of where we started.

 

This is not a sexy concept. Many of us want to believe there are quick ways to get to where we want to be, but usually these short cuts will set us further back in the long run. One parallel that comes to mind in regard to this notion is investing. A Roth IRA and 401K are not these shinny vehicles to build wealth quickly, they are designed to be used over the course of a person’s career to build a tidy nest egg. Mutual funds, index funds, Certificate of Deposit (CD’s), itemized tax forms, and so on are relatively boring, but in the long run they get a person to where they want to be. This is the same for powerlifting: bent over rows, close grip bench press, board work, etc. aren’t really fascinating or fun, but they matter. Over time each set and repetition will help a lifter become that much stronger. Showing up at the gym every day and slogging through a poor workout and working through mediocre gym time is just as important as hitting a great training session or a big personal record at a meet. However, we tend to remember the latter and marginalize the former. Training, like anything, is a journey. Yes, the milestones are important, but so are the day to day monotonous training sessions that we all deal with. But, each day that one focuses on a piece of technique, or the ability to strengthen a muscle group should be held dear. Small things add up. I started bench pressing when I was fourteen and could only press ninety-five pounds. Here I am twenty years older and I have increased that number by fivefold, and I am working toward six-fold.

 

I find the concept of small incremental changes to be comforting. If I can go to bed and know that I am a better man today than I was yesterday I feel good about myself. This can be measured in sheer weight moved, an ethical decision made, a complement passed, an extra minute spent listening to someone else to see where they are coming from. Life moves by fast, but goals worth accomplishing take time and lots of it. Don’t be fooled by people’s claims of achievement and speed, typically these people are not telling you the whole story or they are a flash in the pan. The time we invest in ourselves is the currency of greatness. Each and every minute we have is the most valuable thing in our lives, and we can choose who we want to be with thought and effort.

 

I am working on putting one foot in front of the other in my training life, in my professional life, and in my personal life. I hope this time next year I will be a stronger better person in all of these aspects. I still don’t have a grand plan yet, but the haze is getting a little thinner and I believe I know where to put my efforts. My plan is slightly better today than it was yesterday. Until this path becomes more clear I will continue to make my small mundane changes and I hope they will add to up to something worthwhile. I will continue to work on myself and find a way forward less I be overtaken by a feeling of malaise and the desire to shower. Good things come to those who wait……and work hard.

 

-I watched a change in you
It’s like you never had wings
And you feel so alive- Deftones

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