Thinking Small

On Monday, I took a nice, long walk outside for the first time in months. Finally, I thought as I enjoyed the sun, I can get some exercise. Finally, I can get out of this rut and begin to change my life. 

And then Tuesday found me bed-bound with a migraine. I couldn’t get up, let alone change my life. And back firmly into my rut I go. 

I find myself facing these frustrations rather often. You know the type: I’m too busy (or lazy) to make dinner, so we’re ordering pizza again. Ah, guess I wrecked my diet. May as well eat leftover pizza. Ugh, leftover pizza made my tummy hurt. Guess I won’t be heading out for yoga.

On and on I go, in an endless cycle of all-or-nothing thinking.

Today, it’s a different kind of all-or-nothing rut. On Monday, I took a 5 km walk in the sun. On Tuesday, I got a migraine. Even if the two things aren’t related, they’re now inextricably linked in my mind, and even though I have both the time and inclination to take a walk, I’m scared I’ll trigger another migraine and set myself back again.

And as I look up at the sliver of blue sky that I can see from my office window, I can’t help but think there has to be more to life than this constant struggle between pushing myself too hard and not hard enough.

Every day, I struggle with the notion that if I can’t give it my all, I shouldn’t do anything at all. If I don’t walk at least 5 km, my effort over a shorter distance is wasted. If I don’t write at least 1,000 words, my effort toward a shorter word count is wasted. If I don’t eat 100 per cent healthy, my effort toward a healthier diet is wasted.

So I don’t do anything — a different, more potent, kind of waste.

I know I need to let go of the outcome. I know I need to focus on progress, not perfection. I know I need to keep moving forward, regardless of how fast I go.

It’s the doing that trips me up.

Last week, a friend of mine recommended a goal-setting app called Lift. I’ve played around with it a little, setting a few goals for myself and tracking my progress for a few days, and it seems like a cool way to go about creating a habit toward long-term goals.

So perhaps I need to stop thinking about the big picture. Perhaps the only big goal I need is to set mini-goals for myself. And perhaps I need to learn to be okay with thinking small.

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