Something > Nothing

It’s 10:35 p.m. as I write this, and my husband and I just returned from a dog walk through our neighborhood. With the day’s temperature reaching a high of 96 degrees, it wasn’t until well after sunset that the Texas heat receded enough to be tolerable.

Armed with a walking stick and flashlight, we chatted about the day’s struggles as we navigated the dips and swells of the road, stopping every now and then to pick up a stray soda can or piece of trash.

By this time most people finished dinner hours ago and are likely deep into their favorite show on Netflix. Kids are getting ready for bed. Parents are milking those last few minutes of free time before sliding into bed themselves.

I finished eating my dinner at 9:30 p.m. after 9-5 at the office, a workout with my client Barbara (playing both coach and partner), a few minutes of reading my latest non-fiction book while food heated on the stove, and meeting a new person virtually with whom I will be working on fitness-related projects.

After all that, OF COURSE dinner was finished late.

So why the dog walk at this hour?

It would be easy to call it a day, put my brain out of commission, and do absolutely nothing. Totally justified. But it wouldn’t be fair to Maddie, our beagle. She gets stir-crazy during the constant stream of steamy days, stuck inside with no outlet for her energy. Texas in 100-degree heat is no picnic.

When I’m tempted to give in to being a sloth-like pile of human on the couch, six little words of wisdom from Cesar Millan, the “Dog Whisperer,” sneak to the forefront of my thoughts: “Exercise, discipline, affection–in that order.”

Maddie’s a member of our family and completely helpless against our daily circumstances, so we owe it to her to get out of the house. Hence, the late-night walks. Sometimes really, really late.

Because a walk, even a short one, is better than nothing. It’s the best we can choose to do under the circumstances.

Do you have times in your life where plans go awry? Times when you planned the who, the what, the where, when, and why…and then life threw obstacles in your way?

What did you do?

I used to be an all-or-nothing perfectionist. If something didn’t work out exactly according to the plan I had mapped out in my mind, then I tapped out. Done. Finito. Never interested.

Over the past few years, I’ve slowly worked my way from this fixed mindset–that you are either born with inherent talent/skills or not–to a mindset of growth. For a former perfectionist like myself, it was definitely not an overnight transformation. It took putting myself in uncomfortable situations many times over to get used to the idea that “one and done” doesn’t happen with most things in life.

We learn by doing, by choosing to take action. And doing entails both positive progress and making mistakes, which are really steps of progress in disguise in that you are now wiser to what doesn’t work.

My husband and I refer to ANY steps of progress we make as ‘small victories.’

drawing small victories pull up w500.jpg
© 2016 Connie J. Sun

When you are faced with a situation that puts you out of sync with your goals–questionable food choices at a restaurant, a workout canceled to spend time with family, vacation, missed sleep–just do something that’s a little better than doing nothing. Find a small victory. Bits of progress will add up over time and get you closer to your goals.

Perhaps you had a magical hour set aside to take a nap, then errands around the house ate up some of that time. Grab a cat nap, if only for 20 minutes.

Applaud the small serving of veggies you slid on to your plate that you might have passed over another time.

Let go of the guilt or anguish over a missed workout, and be present wherever you are. You chose to prioritize one thing over another, so honor your choice. There will be another day to exercise.

See yourself as a work in progress and aim to do the best you can, when you can. You’ll be surprised at just how effective that can be.

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