Monday, February 20, 2012
Turning over a new leaf, setting out on a new diet or exercise regime, trying to stop a bad habit or an addiction or some self-defeating behavior, trying to make any positive change, really... When you first decide to do it, when you first find that motivation within yourself, the yes, I am going to CHANGE and IMPROVE things for myself in this and that area...at first it seems pretty easy. Or if not not exactly easy, not too impossible. See, you are motivated by your resolution, and you have energy and interest and it's exciting and new and yes, you can do this, you can do this. And you succeed, at first; it goes well, and you pat yourself on the back and maybe share your achievement with friends and all is nice and swell.
The trouble comes later. A couple days later, or a few weeks, or whatever. There comes that day when you wake up in a terrible mood with no energy and no motivation and a terrible sense of defeat or depression or apathy, and you think about that thing that you told yourself you would do, or refrain from doing and...you just don't want to be bothered. Why not go back, indulge today? Who were you kidding, thinking you could really do this? Everyone slips eventually, right, so why not now? Why not just give up? Sure the old way was unsatisfying or miserable, sure over-indulging felt terrible afterwards but...it's tempting to just give up. All those thoughts swirl around in your head...to backtrack, to say...maybe tomorrow, and today I will just...
And that's when the real work comes. To make change, to make improvement means not only that initial decision...the same way that a project isn't just the initial burst of creativity when you first get to work. How many of us don't have at least a few interesting projects, great ideas that we started working on and then just...puttered off? How did that happen? Simple: a day when you woke up and just...didn't feel like painting more, or getting out those tools, or writing words down on the page, or whatever. Maybe tomorrow, you say to yourself, I just cannot deal with it today...and the momentum begins to fade, there. A project or a resolution or an effort to self-improve...the real work is in those moments. The moments where you just...don't really want to continue. And you swallow back that feeling, and you go on anyway. You draw deeper within yourself, find those turbulent waves of energy and force them to work with you. You don't let that pulsing pyramid, all that you have already built up - whether it is months of achievement or just a few days - crumble.
You keep working on it, even when you'd rather not. You push through the temptation of indolence, of letting those waves of swirling darkness push you under again. Work, work, mental or physical or both. You keep at it. That is what maintaining momentum means: constant, conscious, stubborn work.