They say: “I lost 100 pounds in 6 months!”
They say: “What will you gain when you lose?”
They say: “Resolve now.”
They say: join the gym, lose the weight, eat this product, don’t eat that product.
What they mean to say is: You are not what you need to be.
What they mean is: You do not measure up.
What they mean is: You are not thin enough, or disciplined enough, or pretty enough. Be better. Be more. Be different. Be…anything but what you are right now.
And that’s just not true. Right now, you are, I am, enough. I don’t want to buy what they’re selling, because it’s based on an ideal. An ideal. In other words, it doesn’t exist. Losing 100 pounds is great, but it doesn’t solve every problem. Writing the book is fantastic, but it doesn’t endow the author with miraculous powers. Whatever changes we make, whatever endeavors we make, must start with a strong and sustainable why.
I wrote about Finding Your Why way back when I first started running. The point of that post was to reassure people that if running’s not your thing, it’s just fine. In fact, I wrote then, if you can’t find a sustainable why, your chances of succeeding at whatever it is you want to accomplish diminish.
It’s just true.
Why do you want to lose weight or write a book or register for a triathlon? Why do you want to return to school or get married or have a baby? Why do you want to start a business or invent your product or climb that mountain?
Will losing 20 pounds recapture the attention of your bored partner? Will doing a tri make your mother finally approve? When you own your own business, will you be suddenly free of the rodent races?
As true as those reasons may be, as compelling and sure as they feel, are they sustainable? Are they true, in fact? Are they big enough to keep you going when it’s four degrees and your training program is calling? Are they sure enough to stand on when everything around you says what your’e doing is nuts and stupid and boring and dumb?
How do you find your why?
I tend to think whys ride just under the surface of the reasons we tell other people. They are like the silver shells that slip past our feet when we jump into the waves. We must stand still. We must wait. We must resist the urge to pick up the bigger shells, the uglier, broken, but serviceable shells. The shimmering reasons will come to rest and we will scoop them into buckets and we will be surprised.
We will say: I didn’t know I felt that way about my body. I didn’t know that I wanted to do a tri so that I could avoid the heart disease in my genes. We will notice the small but foundational details that will sustain us.
Chances are, if you are not happy with your life or your body or your job, losing weight or getting new clothes or adding a new risk will not solve your problems. It will not make you a different person, unencumbered by the stupid garbage the other you carried around forever.
Write at the top of a page what it is you want to do.
Write down all the reasons, pretty or not, why you want to do this thing.
Keep going, scratch past the soft and comfortable sunshine.
Keep going when it feels dangerous, rocky, scary.
When you get that real and true and sustainable thing, you will vibrate with fear. And with hope.