Intentional Thinking Day 4: Focus on the Journey

Disappointment is inevitable. As I expressed on Day 2 of this challenge, it’s not really possible to control the occurrence of unwanted emotions. It is possible to control how you respond to them.

One of my most significant struggles in life right now is getting back into shape. I’ve never had to do it before.

In my early 20’s, I was so ridiculously fit. Before my academic classes, I would attend high-intensity fitness classes, like swim, boot camp, and pilates. After my studies, I’d go to the gym, hop on the treadmill for a half-hour and then often play pick-up basketball until closing time.

But also, I was still kind of a child, right? That metabolism was high.

Fast forward nine years and a-number-of-pounds-I’m-not-even-ready-to-disclose later, it’s a struggle to get to the gym on even two or three days. Every once in a while, I hit a good streak for two or three weeks, and then I quit.

The reasons why the good streak ends vary. Sometimes it’s because I don’t lose enough weight. Other times, I’m discouraged by how hard I’m still breathing on the treadmill, or by an ache in my joints, or by the fact that I ate pizza I didn’t need. The worst of times is when I’m comparing myself to 20-year-old Ty and feeling ashamed about how far I’ve fallen.

But almost every time, I quit because I haven’t gotten the results I wanted to see.

It’s kind of ridiculous, because it took years to fall this out of shape and it’s going to take at least half as long to get back into it.

When I look into the mirror or at the number on the scale and see that not enough has changed, my self-esteem plummets. This is why in Take the Stairs, Rory Vaden urges us to “[Put our] self-esteem into [our] work habits instead of [our] results.”

How much more committed would I be if my esteem was tied to the fact that I SHOWED UP at the gym rather than to the number on the scale?

This same principle applies to our work habits when it comes to art as well. Maybe we feel disappointment when we fail to complete a project on our self-imposed timeline, or when an agent passes us over, or when we make a mistake and have to scrap the whole thing. How much more satisfied would we be when we praise ourselves for simply showing up?

If we focus on the journey and not just the destination, we’ll eventually look up and realize we’ve arrived.

Challenge: The next time you experience disappointment and feel like giving up, try saying this instead: “I showed up today. That’s awesome.”

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