I stink at the consistent chipping away that leads to true success and completion. The grind in rise and grind. The grain of salt that builds a pound of sodium. (A big fat caveat early—this somehow doesn’t apply to work, which I’ve never had a problem grinding away at. This is mostly a personal life problem)
I heard a line the other day that stuck with me:
“How do you eat a whale? One bite at a time.”
It’s not like I don’t try to focus on the process rather than the end goal. I’m a mostly intelligent fellow, but I’m prone to bouts of laziness, boredom and terrible willpower. Come over sometime and see all the latest stupid trick I’ve devised to motivate me to day-to-day improvement. Charts on walls. Color coded sticky notes. A calendar with three columns to represent nutrition, creativity and work, with a scoring chart next to it to rank myself every day.
And now a big whale on the kitchen cupboard.
I drew a picture of a whale and cut it into 20 pieces, then taped the whole thing back together. Each piece represents a pound. The goal is to metaphorically eat the whale pound by pound so that by (TARGET GOAL JANUARY 1!) I’m 20 pounds lighter. (Another sidebar: 20 pounds sounds like a lot, but that’s two pounds a week and, trust me, I can stand to lose a lot more) See those harpoons? Those are added pounds. Guess what the whale looks like after two weeks? One harpoon in its back. Sorry, Mr. Whale.
This project is in concert with the Happy Scale app on my phone which tracks actual weight and predicted weight and helps establish short-term goals based on long-term ultra goals.
This is in concert with another Post-it note project on the other side of the room where I stick a red note on the wall to signify a bad nutrition day and green to celebrate good.
This is in concert with the My Fitness Pal app on my phone to track calories.
This is in concert with the My Basis watch, which tracks steps and heart rate and body temperature and perspiration and quality of sleep.
This in concert with general madness.
I’m trying. I want to eat that damn whale, but it’s so much more appealing to find a way to unhinge my jaw and swallow it all at once, or maybe use a laser to shrink it or a pill to make it dissolve in my mouth. That’s to say, I suck at putting in the day to day work necessary to achieve this particular weight loss goal.
My problem isn’t just with health and fitness. Creative projects get stymied too. Like the two books I pretend I’m writing, or the huge projects I think up and then abandon (That Awkward Stage zine, multiple podcasts, even my own blog). I’m just not motivated enough by the long term rewards to put in the necessary day to day and week to week work. I’m so much better at quick one-offs. or jumping from mini project to mini project.
Which brings me to this. HOW THE HELL DO YOU DO IT? I’m friends with some talented, smart and accomplished people. How do you make the day to day progress necessary to effect change and positive results? What motivates you? And is it for sale?
Comment or email me your secrets.