The Devil is in the details… start there
When I was a graphic designer, my boss used to go over my design proofs with a meticulous eye, like a jeweler with their loupe.
She had an eye for detail, and she found every single error, every misspell down to the fine print and every slightly off-centered image.
She was precise and very successful in her job. Micro-managing was her game and while that style didn’t play out well for the two of us (that’s another story for another day), it did make me realize how much I didn’t pay attention to detail.
I wanted things done and done and sometimes my work paid the price.
And sometimes our position in life pays the price.
The details matter most
On many occasions, and what typically feels like all of a sudden, we look up and think, How did I get here?
How am I still struggling with this baby weight, and the baby is already four years old?
How has it been 10 years and I’m still stuck in a job I hate?
What we do day in and day out have placed us smack dab where we are now, and that can be an overwhelming thought.
To think that we have that much power.
Yes, we do have that much power. We just don’t realize it.
The harsh reality
If we don’t like where we are in life, it can be too much to take in, to accept and deem appropriate. Surly our parents had something to do with it, our upbringing, our beliefs? Or all the circumstances beyond our control?
It’s actually pretty safe to say that we’ve played a very big role in all of it.
All the little things that played out — and the big things, but those are so much more obvious — have had a major impact on our lives but done in a very under-the-radar fashion.
A lot of life gets lived in the details
Those seemingly insignificant choices and decisions you make every day impact so many areas of your life.
For example, if you’re looking to lose weight, picking at your kids’ leftovers instead of making yourself a healthy meal, or having a glass of wine every night (I know, no one wants to hear that one!), or waiting until the end of the day to get in a workout only to cancel on yourself, all impact your efforts in a big way. It just does it little by little over time, without you fully realizing it.
A little goes a long way
It’s compounded behavior that slowly builds up and if you’re not paying attention, one day you’re going to be looking down saying, Oh whoa, what is that number on the scale?!
We tend to let our brains go on auto-pilot, and just like you can sometimes drive yourself to work without remembering the drive, you can also eat yourself mindlessly to an extra 20lbs.
Pay attention to your habits
This is the real power of habit: the insight that your habits are what you choose them to be.
― Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business
There is hope! You actually have a say in the matter when it comes to your habits. You don’t have to be a slave to the auto-pilot.
When I started getting serious about getting back into working out, I first began to pay attention to what I was doing every day and the thoughts that followed me around.
Turns out, my little habit was excuse-making. (Yes, that’s a thing.)
I had an excuse for everything, but my number one excuse was my kids. I let mommy-guilt take the cake (and pretty much ate it too).
I can’t be away from the kids for 30 minutes, they’re going to need something, they’re going to walk out of the house and into the street and it will be my fault because I was working out!
Or, They’re going to be too annoying and want to workout with me, which means they’ll be climbing all over me and getting in the way!
The only way I can workout is if I put them in front of the TV and I’ll just feel bad the whole time.
These were my daily thoughts. I didn’t see how I could workout without it veiled in some sort of guilt or annoyance.
When you make those your choices — guilt or annoyance — you want to avoid the whole matter altogether, so I did.
And then I looked up and realized I didn’t like the body I was seeing. How did I get here?
It was then that the pain of avoidance outweighed the mommy guilt and annoyance. That’s when I decided to change up the narrative and say, FU mommy-guilt, it’s time to let it go. Kids, you’re on your own, mommy’s going to the basement to workout.
Sure enough, they followed. They got into everything. They were annoying AF. But I did it.
And the next day I did it again. And then again. And then again.
Life is a process of growing
As with any new habit, there is going to be discomfort, but there is also going to be a learning and growing process. Isn’t that what a life lived best offers us though?
If it’s something that’s lifting you up, feeding your soul, making you live more like you want to live, then even more reason to get uncomfortable (for a short time) until it becomes a habit.
You choose your habits. That’s powerful!
Don’t live life by accident. Begin to pay attention to the details, and the choices that you think are so insignificant that they can’t really make an impact, understand that they do make a difference, a big difference.
When you add them all up, you will find yourself right where you’re standing.
You don’t have to take it all on at once
Typically, people who exercise, start eating better and becoming more productive at work. They smoke less and show more patience with colleagues and family. They use their credit cards less frequently and say they feel less stressed. Exercise is a keystone habit that triggers widespread change.
― Charles Duhigg
One feeds off the other. If you’re not where you want to be, you can improve your situation by focusing on just one area, and from there it can affect all other areas.
How to begin
First, pay attention to your thoughts and where they lead you.
The choices you give yourself — mine were guilt or annoyance, neither of which I wanted to experience — can make you avoid trying something new altogether.
Think of how you’re looking at something. Can you change up your options?
I changed it up by deciding that working out could be annoying with two kids all over me, or it could be a way for me to set a good example for them. The right choice became obvious, and this new point of view allowed there to be less resistance.
Next, don’t just set a goal. Create an action plan.
Goals are great, but anyone can set a goal. The real payoff lies in being able to go after that goal with intention and consistency.
Goals are pure fantasy unless you have a specific plan to achieve them ~Steven R. Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
If you want to lose weight, you can tell me that those 20 pounds will come off, but I’m not convinced until you create a detailed plan and articulate how far you’re willing to go to make it a reality.
I now log in all my workouts in a notebook and over the last four weeks, by committing to 10 push-ups and 100 bicep curls after each workout, I can look back and say I did 20 days of working out, plus 200 push-ups and 2,000 bicep curls.
WHAT? (That was my reaction to the bicep curls. Never have I done that many in so few days!)
Just like a fire needs additional logs to continue burning, you’re going to need daily reminders about your intentions to help keep your fire within lit. This fuels consistency. And consistency reinforces a new habit.
Take a moment and write out how you want to feel, and what you want to achieve. Detail your process. Track your progress. Stay on top of what you want to see happen in your life and soon enough, you’ll begin to see the transformations.
Little by little. You got to be prepared to be in it for the long haul.
Always remember, you have the power
The hard truth is you need to be willing to get uncomfortable, create self-discipline, experiment with new habits, and live intentionally if you’re serious about seeing results.
The good news is, you’re not stuck where you are, you simply need to focus on the small, not-so-harmless details that are creating your life and choose wisely.