In childhood education, there is this concept which psychologists have long-studied: personal fable. It’s the undeveloped and immature thinking which believes that no one has ever faced a challenge quite like theirs. I find that many adults never outgrow this phase, and they continue to think that their personal struggle is a valid excuse for inaction. The fact of the matter is that it doesn’t take much searching to find someone who has done a lot more with a lot less. The only difference was their embrace of action in the now and your rejection of the now.
I like when I hear people refer to a time of year as if that time somehow personified and has incontrovertible volition:
“Well, you know how the Holidays are.”
No. No I don’t.
“Well, you know how Spring Break goes.”
Nope. How is that?
“There’s just a lot of Summer activities.”
“When the days get shorter in the Fall, I have a hard time getting going.”
Right. So, you have produced in your mind a 12 month calendar of impossibility. The silly factor in all of this is that people don’t even realize they do it. Each weekend, each birthday party, each holiday, each change in season produces a rationalization in some people which they seem to have forgotten they just used the prior weekend, prior event, prior holiday, prior season, prior day or hour. There is only one ideal time: now. And it has nothing to do with what you think are valid excuses, because with one equivocation comes two. Two grow into nonstop excuse-making.
I do it too. This is no judgment, by any means. This is a call for awareness. There is a human propensity to romanticize the past or the future as pretext for inaction in the present. That would be fine, except this layout continues in perpetuity. Thus, we exempt ourselves from action forever. Heck, I catch people overlaying this onto whole decades:
“I’m just so busy with school and starting my career; it’s hard to get to the gym (in their 20s).”
“You know how it is with a house and kids (in their 30s).”
“Body composition just doesn’t seem to change after 40.”
“My body doesn’t bounce back like it used to (50s).”
“I thought I’d have more time in retirement (60s).”
You may think you are the first and smartest person to piece together a well-reasoned treatise on why you can’t invest in your health and wellness goals. I have heard greater ones, many, many times over, from smarter people with harder lives. It’s actually very simple: make it happen in the now; or don’t make it happen in the now. That choice will continue to sit with you whatever your “now” is. It will always be now. It will never not be now. If you are the person who chooses inaction in the now, that is your choice. Moreover, it’s become your identity. That is not a temporary situation. You’ll still be in the now next week, next month, next year, next decade. If you have defined yourself as “the person who accepts inaction in the present,” you have created a tough spot for yourself that doesn’t just go away. Now is forever.
There are people who commit to fitness and make it happen while carrying a plate full of impossibilities. I’ve seen it. I’ve coached single moms who travel across the country for work every single week, with special needs children, and taking care of aging parents, and no familial or community support structure. They have anxiety too. They have depression too. They have fear too. They have health challenges, you better believe. But they don’t wield those as a weapon against themselves. You think you’re busy? Cute. Potent fitness endeavors take less time than you spend perusing social media, watching reality TV, binge-watching seasons of shows and news. An effective food strategy for the week takes less time and effort to plot than most people take in shaping their Tweets or Snapchat posts. The average people out there with average life challenges can integrate wellbeing into daily life. The below-average people do it. The extraordinary do it.
But again, it starts with a worldview that is doing, not talking. Doing. Not contemplating. Acting. Not waiting. Living. Not equivocating.
Action does not happen “when things calm down.” Action does not happen “after the holidays.” Action does not happen on Monday, the 1st, when “I get back from vacation,” when the stars align. Action happens one place only: now.